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Work begins on Murrysville pump station that will aid in pipeline reversal

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, May 31, 2018, 5:09 p.m.
Crew begin site-prep work for a pump station that will aid in the proposed reversal of the Laurel Pipeline, which runs across Pennsylvania.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-REview
Crew begin site-prep work for a pump station that will aid in the proposed reversal of the Laurel Pipeline, which runs across Pennsylvania.

Crews have started site preparation for a petroleum pumping station in Murrysville that will aid in the Laurel Pipeline Co.'s plan to reverse the flow of the gasoline, jet and diesel fuel to go west to east.

Murrysville council in late 2017 approved a site plan and conditional-use application for the company, a subsidiary of Houston-based Buckeye Partners. Changing the flow eastward to a terminal near Altoona could bring as much as 40,000 barrels of fuel from Midwest producers into Western Pennsylvania, Buckeye officials have said.

The state Public Utility Commission has not ruled on whether Buckeye will be allowed to reverse the flow of the Altoona-to-Pittsburgh section. The new pumping station along Route 22 would allow bidirectional service — meaning fuels would be able to travel east to west or west to east.

“Buckeye fully respects and remains committed to the ongoing PUC process,” Robert Malecky, Buckeye's president of domestic pipelines and terminals, said in a statement in April announcing plans for bidrectional service. “We see the addition of eastbound service to the current westbound capability as providing an operational solution for all our customers.”

Administrative law Judge Erando Vero in March recommended the PUC deny Laurel Pipeline's application.

“It must be noted that despite bearing the burden of proof, no Laurel witness provided a study supporting their claims that Midwest supply is the lowest cost supply source,” Vero wrote in the March 29 opinion.

Opposition group Deny Buckeye issued a statement supporting Vero's ruling. The group includes executives from Sheetz and GetGo, who have been critical of the proposal to reverse flow.

Malecky said bidirectional service “provides shippers and suppliers with the choice to supply from the west or east while still increasing Pennsylvania consumers' access to more affordable, lower cost North American manufactured fuels.”

The pump station will be on a 1-acre pad on the 3-acre property, which formerly was home to Toscano Garden Center. The station will not be staffed, though a crew will periodically provide maintenance, Buckeye attorney Kenneth Foltz said.

PUC officials have not set a date to vote on the partial reversal application.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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