Not in charge

So sorry to read about the devastation with the waters of the Loyalsock and Lycoming Creeks. As I live in Muncy and have lived here a long time, I know first-hand what high and powerful water can do. With these recent events, I noted that there was a gasoline leakage into the ‘Sock. DEP monitors that pipeline. One of the arguments we heard from the company proposing to build an untried process plant in our town was that it would be regulated by DEP. DEP is not in charge! Catastrophic events can and do happen. Bad enough that we have gasoline spilling into the water but to place a new processor that could misfire or flood right in the middle of our town, where is reason and logic? Just to say that DEP will monitor is no guarantee for our safety. As there are no plants of this kind in existence in the United States, I can only hope Muncy does not have to be the one town in the country to try it. Now that the imminent danger of water contamination due to the ruptured Sunoco pipeline along Wallis Run at Loyalsock Creek has passed, it’s time to take a collective deep breath and reflect. The release of 55,000 gallons of gasoline into our creek and river did not need to happen. According to Sunoco, this stretch of 8-inch pipeline constructed in 1937 had been repaired twice before, as recently as 2011 following Tropical Storm Lee, where it was exposed and left dangling when high, swift-moving water caused severe bank erosion and adjacent road destruction. Pipelines placed in mountainous areas where extreme storm events can cause instant disaster and life-changing destruction are human-engineered calamities waiting to happen. It happened. Pipelines – regardless of what they carry, liquid or gas, and who owns them – need to be meticulously designed, properly constructed, proactively maintained, and not just reactively repaired. We should not be building new pipelines if we cannot properly maintain ones currently in place. We are failing in maintaining our aging infrastructure. Owners of all privately-owned pipelines should be required to have approved maintenance plans in place with funding from the pipeline operation to pay for non-owner oversight. Proposed pipelines should not receive automatic stamps of approval from government and regulatory agencies. Consideration needs to be given not only to the placement and impact of the pipeline but also its need. Corporate profit does not constitute a need. Take another deep breath. We dodged this pipeline bullet. What about the next time?

Carol Parenzan

Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper