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Wolf Administration Outlines Actions Underway in Wake of Pipeline Drilling Spill Affecting Marsh Creek State Park, Chester County

08/13/2020

​Operation at the drill site has been suspended indefinitely.

Harrisburg, PA -- The Departments of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and Environmental Protection (DEP) assured Marsh Creek State Park supporters that concerted efforts are underway to safeguard visitors and park resources in the wake of Monday’s pipeline drilling fluid spill affecting the lake; and that Energy Transfer will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

“We are deeply concerned and troubled over this significant resource and recreation impact at Marsh Creek that comes at a time when that park, as are all our parks, is seeing incredible visitation rates amid the pandemic,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Drawing more than 1 million visitors a year, Marsh Creek is among our most visited park, and water-based activities are the catalyst for that draw.

“The popularity of paddle-boarding alone is phenomenal at Marsh Creek Lake, and anglers and other boaters can be found daily on the lake. Containment, water testing, and remediation are underway, and access to affected water and shoreline will be restricted.”

Noting the park’s connecting trails and other strong ties to surrounding communities, Dunn said, “DCNR recognizes this park is beloved by those who live nearby and is an important resource to the people and businesses of surrounding communities. I feel it is important to let them know we’re standing by them on this.”

What Happened

On Monday, August 10, DEP responded to a report from Sunoco of a potential inadvertent return at HDD 290, a drill site off Green Valley Road in Marsh Creek State Park in Upper Uwchlan Township, Chester County. Operation at the drill site has been suspended indefinitely.

Used in Sunoco Pipeline LP’s Mariner East project in Chester County, an estimated 8,100 gallons of drilling fluid (mud and water) leaked into wetlands off park property and into a tributary to Marsh Creek Lake. The spill is affecting the lake’s cove area along Park Road.

What's The Status

Buoys will be used on the lake to delineate the affected area.

Approximately 33 acres of the 535-acre lake is now off-limits to boating and fishing.

Offering a swimming pool, the park does not permit beach-based swimming. Boating and fishing still is permitted on the rest of the lake, and the park remains open to all other activities.

“With the assistance of DEP, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, private contractors, and our park personnel, we are focusing on containment, cleanup, and remediation, and we need the public’s cooperation,” Dunn said. “Aiding that effort are DCNR park managers and rangers, as well as our aquatic specialists who will be gauging the spill’s effect on water quality and lake aquatic life.”

What's Being Done

DEP, along with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), continue to investigate and oversee the cleanup of the inadvertent return into Marsh Creek, said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

At the conclusion of the investigation, DEP anticipates that there will be civil penalties and potentially other regulatory ramifications.

Drilling activity at the site has ceased until further notice.

“Since the spill occurred on Monday, clean-up crews have made significant progress in collecting and containing spilled material. DEP aquatic biologists have been onsite since the beginning of the incident to assess the spill and ensure that cleanup activities are conducted properly. Downstream drinking water intakes have been notified and there are no concerns about drinking water safety. There have not been any complaints of impacted private water wells,” McDonnell said. “DEP is also actively coordinating with experts at DCNR, Department of Health, Army Corps of Engineers, and Public Utility Commission to ensure that the ongoing situation is managed consistently and safely. DEP has consistently held Sunoco accountable for violations and will do so in this instance as well.”

Located in northcentral Chester County, Marsh Creek’s lake and 1,784 acres offer a refuge for migrating waterfowl and also are popular with hikers, hunters, and picnickers.

More information about Marsh Creek and Pennsylvania’s other 120 state parks is available on the DCNR website.

MEDIA CONTACTTerry Brady, DCNR, 717-877-6315;
                                    Virginia Cain, DEP, 484-868-2452

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