Sunoco Pipeline, L.C. (Sunoco) has paid a $59,000 civil penalty as part of a settlement agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for wetlands violations. Specifically, the settlement addressed Sunoco’s violations of Pennsylvania’s Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, 32 P.S. § § 693.1-693.27 (DSE Act). This enforcement action demonstrates that Pennsylvania applies stricter standards for activities carried out in wetlands than what may be required under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq. (1972). Even where certain activities may not be regulated or require a wetlands permit under the Clean Water Act, such activity may be regulated and require a permit under Pennsylvania’s DSE Act.

The DSE Act defines and classifies dams and gives the Environmental Quality Board power to adopt rules and regulations for the design, construction, operation, monitoring, maintenance, modification, repair and removal of dams. It also addresses the permitting process, governs inspections and provides for penalties for violations of the Act.

Sunoco’s violations of the DSE Act impacted seven separate wetlands systems in five southern Pennsylvania counties—Berks County, Blair County, Cumberland County, Huntingdon County and Perry County.

Sunoco maintains the Mariner East 1 Pipeline, an eight-inch underground pipeline running between Westmoreland County and Delaware County. DEP conducted inspections of the pipeline between March 2014 and June 2015. During these inspections, DEP discovered that Sunoco had undertaken certain actions in furtherance of the Mariner East 1 project without obtaining the necessary permits. DEP discovered that Sunoco had performed repairs on the Mariner East 1 Pipeline that impacted seven separate wetlands, despite not having the necessary permits. Sunoco also installed a valve station in a floodway in Blair County and impacted two small Huntingdon County streams without securing permits. Constructing, operating or maintaining a water obstruction or encroachment without a permit is a violation of the DSE Act.

Representatives from DEP’s South-Central Region, emphasizes that although pipeline companies must perform maintenance activities on the pipelines, where such pipelines run through protected streams and wetland, they must also take steps to ensure compliance with state rules governing permits for such water bodies.

After being put on notice for the violations, Sunoco subsequently obtained the proper permits for these violations, as well as for all other stream, floodway and wetland crossings as part of the Mariner East 1 project.

Philadelphia Wetlands Lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. Help Businesses Comply with State and Federal Wetlands Regulations

Philadelphia wetlands lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. understand that the discovery of wetlands on property to be developed may increase the permitting costs for the development, but the existence of wetlands does not need to derail your project. If your business needs help determining whether a water body constituted a regulated wetland and what permits are needed to proceed with your plans, we can help. We have previously represented a developer against the EPA’s claims that he had destroyed wetlands by excavating land to build a pond, and settled such claims for a $100 civil penalty after demonstrating that the property had not been a regulated wetlands area

Call us at 215-557-9440 or contact us online to learn how we can help facilitate your project.