This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website and the Delaware County Daily Times‘ website.
By a 4-1 vote, the supervisors voted to table an answer on a proposed settlement after listening to township residents in a special meeting held at West Chester East High School.
Delaying a decision may have given Sunoco the opportunity to wipe their hands of the agreement altogether if they so choose, one township official warned.
“Does this hurt us? Maybe,” said West Goshen Supervisor Ted Murphy. “If Sunoco decides to walk away from the agreement, then they will be able to build whatever they want. The vote tonight to table the vote until the May meeting could have jeopardized a limited victory.”
… [Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]
The meeting needed more than the three and a half hours allotted to allow time for special counsel, a safety expert and residents to comment on the settlement agreement set forth between Sunoco Pipeline L.P., the Concerned Citizens of West Goshen Township, or CCWGT, and the West Goshen Township Board of Supervisors.
It has been an ongoing debate between all the parties and the residents since Sunoco filed a petition with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on March 21, 2014.
Since that time, the township has hired pipeline safety expert Richard Kuprewicz to look into the plans for the already existing Boot Road Pump Station, including adding an associated Vapor Combustion Unit as part of the Mariner East project. It has also hired a special counsel team made up of Ken Myers and David Brooman.
From the discussions, objections and amended petitions, a settlement agreement came about.
The special counsel recommended the board approve the agreement, while the Concerned Citizens group already signed its approval.
Sunoco also approved of the agreement.
The supervisors were the only party not to have signed off on it.
“It’s a very difficult issue when you’re dealing with the safety of the residents,” Murphy said. “Our primary concern is the health, welfare and safety of our residents. That’s our charge when we’re elected. The issue here tonight is whether the agreement in place provides us a partial victory concerning their safety and health.”
Lilli Middlebrooks, a member of the Concerned Citizens group, was upset with the supervisors’ decision to table the vote.
She said she felt people missed the big picture and failed to listen to the experts they heard from and, instead, chose not to listen.
The risk the supervisors took with no decision was huge, she said.
“We have to prove that it’s unsafe if we bring a challenge,” Murphy said. “We had difficulty finding an expert to provide the services Mr. Kuprewicz provided. It took months to find an expert who would come in. It’s, I think, almost impossible to find an expert to come in and say the project that Sunoco has proposed is unsafe. I think we will lose in that effort.”
The main topic of concern from the residents in attendance dealt with the health risks of possible air pollution or leaks and even an explosion.
Kuprewicz’s inability to give an answer on the impact on health may have been on everyone’s minds in the room as he would only comment on the safety of the pipeline and flare.
But now, all the safety measures added into the settlement agreement may have been for nothing.
“The vote tonight to table it may have consequences that we can’t undo,” Murphy said. “The vote tonight to reject the settlement agreement leaves Sunoco with the ability to proceed as they wish on that property. A vote yes would have restricted their ability to develop the 4.5 acres. This agreement I think was a good agreement that, not a total victory, but a partial victory in many cases is better than none at all.”