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Class action lawsuit filed against Sunoco Pipeline

Attorney claims Sunoco ‘drilled in a negligent manner'
By Bill Rettew, brettew@dailylocal.com
Monday, March 26, 2018

WEST WHITELAND >> A class action lawsuit was launched, last week, by three neighbors impacted by sinkholes near Lisa Drive, at the site of Sunoco Mariner East 2 pipeline construction.

Attorney Andrew Neuwirth filed the lawsuit in the Philadelphia Court of Commons Pleas on behalf of Russell and Mary March of Lisa Drive and Jared Savitski of Chessie Court. The lawyer expects five to six additional residents to soon join the class action lawsuit.

Neuwirth maintains that Sunoco should have never used horizontal directional drilling in the area of an established limestone fault line.

He said the pipeline builder should have instead dug with more a conventional technique and instead used trench digging.

"The allegation is they were drilling in a negligent manner in an area they shouldn't have been," Neuwirth said.

Shipping of highly volatile liquids on the existing 1930s-era Mariner East 1 pipeline was recently halted after Sunoco filled in several of up to five sinkholes with concrete.

"They've been told to stop," Neuwrith said. "It's too little, too late.

"The damage is done."

The court complaint reads that drilling has caused destruction and physical damage to the plaintiffs' properties.

The complaint reads that pipeline construction has caused cracking in walls, chimneys and driveways and a subsequent decline in property value.

The plaintiffs are experiencing "anxiety, fear and associated stress from the potential that the underground pipelines may explode," reads the complaint.

The complaint also reads that Sunoco "drilled in a negligent manner and violated state environmental laws."

A Nov. 11 discharge of drilling fluid flooded Lisa Drive backyards and soon the first sinkhole appeared.

"Sunoco knew or should have known prior to drilling that there was an underground fissure in the area of the pipeline," reads the complaint. "The failure to identify this fissure is a serious failure..."

Sunoco operates "without sufficient geologic study and without notifying residents in the area of the risk … and knowingly, recklessly and negligently caused the release of the contaminant," according to the attorney. "Acts and omissions were committed in a wanton, reckless and outrageous disregard for the rights, safety and health of plaintiffs."

The complaint also reads that plaintiffs are experiencing a "loss of the use of quiet enjoyment of their property and impartment of the value of their homes."

Neuwrith expects that the suit will be heard within the next 15-24 months.

Lisa Dillinger, Sunoco Pipeline spokesperson released the following comment, Monday: "I cannot comment on current or pending legal matters, however, we continue to work with the PUC and all appropriate agencies to ensure a timely return to service."

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