Middletown Township appeals ruling on Mariner East pipeline records

Mariner East 2 construction site in Delaware County, Sunday March 22, 2020. (Courtesy of Eric Friedman)

Mariner East 2 construction site in Delaware County, Sunday March 22, 2020. (Courtesy of Eric Friedman)

A Philadelphia suburb is fighting a court order to release communications between municipal officials and the developer of a natural gas pipeline that was recently charged with environmental crimes related to the pipeline’s construction.

Middletown Township has been refusing to produce the records for nearly a year, asserting they were exempt from disclosure under the state’s open records law. Energy Transfer, the owner of the multi-billion-dollar Mariner East pipeline system, also opposed their release.

A Delaware County judge ruled last month that the records are public, and ordered the township to turn them over to the owners of a 124-unit apartment complex along the pipeline route.

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Middletown Township on Friday appealed the judge’s ruling to Commonwealth Court, days after a similar appeal by Energy Transfer. The township says the records contain sensitive and confidential information the township obtained from Energy Transfer during its investigation of sinkholes near the pipeline.

The owners of Glen Riddle Station Apartments, who have been seeking the records, say pipeline construction has threatened the health and safety of the residents. The pipeline’s route splits the apartment complex in half.

Energy Transfer was recently charged with 48 criminal counts related to Mariner East construction, most of them for illegally releasing industrial waste at 22 sites in 11 counties across the state. A grand jury report cites numerous spills of drilling fluid at the construction site at Glen Riddle.

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Energy Transfer subsidiary Sunoco Pipeline LP has been installing two new pipelines to take natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale gas field in western Pennsylvania to an export terminal near Philadelphia.

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