Mariner East Inadvertent Returns Simply Political Soapboxes for Pipeline Opponents

By now much of SEPA is probably aware of a recent inadvertent return related to the Mariner East pipeline system. In short, Sunoco experienced an inadvertent return related to horizontal drilling activities (HDD) in Upper Uwchlan Township that leaked into the Marsh Creek Lake.

Energy Transfer and their contractors have responded and instituted a plan to contain, remove and recycle the bentonite clay. Sometimes during horizontal drilling activities drilling mud, mostly made of water and non-toxic bentonite, can rise through already existing cracks and fissures in the geography to the surface. Anyone who has used a drill understands the importance to keep the drill cool, which is what the drilling mud is used for.

Predictably, pipeline opponents have taken the opportunity to grandstand and exaggerate the incident while calling for Mariner East construction permits be revoked. Many of these same activists gathered at Marsh Creek Lake to lambast Mariner East and…go kayaking in the water that they claim has been contaminated. 

The reality is that drilling mud is purposefully engineered to be environmentally safe. It is comprised predominantly of water (subjected to the same purity standards as any household in Pennsylvania) and bentonite clay, a non-toxic clay and a component of lipstick, cosmetics, and other household products. No one’s drinking water has been impacted, contrary to the pipeline opponents’ claims and media speculation.

One may wonder how these pipeline opponents can believe their own fibs. If drilling mud and inadvertent returns, which are undergoing the proper reclamation processes, are such dangers to water and water sources why do you organize an event kayaking around Marsh Creek Lake? A very logical question.

But hysterics are – and always have been – the noisy means for Rep. Friel Otten, Senator Dinniman, and others to push their cause. While yes, inadvertent returns are never ideal, these activists hysterics is hardly believable by them.

They have at least shown that even while the lake is being cleaned up, paddling can still be enjoyed as an activity for the whole family.