PA Healthcare Professionals Express Grave Concern Regarding Mariner East 2 Pipeline
This letter may be signed only by healthcare professionals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Sunoco Logistics has plans to build a hazardous, high pressure, highly volatile liquids pipeline throughout the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including through densely populated communities and in close proximity to schools.
As healthcare professionals, we express deep concern for public health and safety, which could be threatened by a leak, breach, or explosion along the pipeline route. Such an event has the potential for catastrophic injuries and loss of life due to the natural gas liquids (ethane, propane, and butane) being transported through our state for the first time via the Mariner East pipelines.
This letter will be presented at the November 16th House and Senate Committees joint public hearing to review emergency preparedness & response measures for natural gas/petroleum pipeline infrastructure across PA. In this way, our concerns will be included as part of the public record on pipeline safety.
To our Elected Representatives and State Regulators,
As health care professionals, we express our deep concern for public health and safety with regard to Sunoco’s proposed Mariner East 2 (ME2) pipeline. This pipeline, if constructed, will carry hazardous, highly volatile liquids under extremely high pressure (1,500 PSI) throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including densely populated Delaware County (3000 people per square mile). If a leak were to occur, it would form an invisible, odorless, combustible gas, leading to loss of life and severe catastrophic impacts, such as thermal and blast injuries, as well as asphyxiation from released pipeline gases. The likelihood of such an event is very possible given Sunoco Pipeline’s safety record averaging two leaks per month for the past 10 years. Consequently, this pipeline poses an extreme public hazard that jeopardizes the health and safety of our communities.
Residences, Businesses, and Schools Endangered by the ME2 Pipeline
Numerous residences, businesses, elder care facilities, and schools exist within an 1,100 foot blast zone of the proposed pipeline, and even more within a ½ mile impact zone, necessitating rapid triage and complex medical management of thousands of people at one time. For example, Glenwood Elementary in Middletown Township, Delaware County is located a 625 feet away from the proposed pipeline, placing the entire school of 450 young children within a potential blast zone, while Saints Peter and Paul School in Hershey Mills, Chester County is a mere 100 feet from the center line. Across the Commonwealth, there are approximately 20 schools within a potential blast zone, and approximately 40 schools total within a ½ mile impact zone.
Emergency First Responder and Health Care Professional Considerations
As health care professionals, we must consider the likelihood of being prepared to effectively manage a mass causality event related to the ME2 pipeline in a densely populated area, or near a school.
- In the event of a gas leak or explosion, a safety perimeter would have to be established, and first responders would not be able to safely access injured people within the blast and evacuation zones.
- Large triage stations would need to be mobilized at least ½ mile outside the impact zone, leaving the most critically injured unable to obtain medical care from such a distance.
- Children are medically managed differently, based on weight and size. Pediatric-sized emergency medical supplies are limited.
- Local hospitals would be overwhelmed and underprepared to handle a massive influx of injured patients.
- Helicopters and ambulances would only be able to transport one patient at time to tertiary care centers. Clearly, this would not be adequate.
- Those who survive thermal and blast injuries often require long term rehabilitiation including physical and psychological support.
Your Legislative Duty
As our legislators, you have been informed of the catastrophic risks to our densely populated communities. Based on that knowledge, you must commit to welfare of the citizens you were elected to serve, and the Constitution you are sworn to uphold (in particular, Article 1, Section 27 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) and halt implementation of the ME 2 pipeline.
The oil and gas industry seems invested in having us believe that we need to risk public safety and jeopardize public health in order to have jobs. We know that this is not true, and in any case, profits for a Texas-based corporation like Sunoco must never outweigh risks to our Pennsylvania communities.