The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
A pipeline exploded in Beaver County, Pennsylvania at approximately 5 a.m. Monday morning, causing a large fire and prompting the evacuation of dozens of homes in the area.
The valves to the pipeline were shut off and the fire extinguished itself by 7 a.m., the company said in a statement via WPXI's Mike Holden:
"All of the appropriate regulatory notifications have been made. An initial site assessment reveals evidence of a landslide in the vicinity of the pipeline. The line has been safely isolated and depressurized until a thorough investigation can be completed." Sunoco spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger said Monday in a statement to the Daily Local.
No injuries were reported, but one home, two garages and several vehicles were destroyed by fires, according to the Associated Press. Interstate 376 was closed and the Central Valley school district also canceled classes.
"I saw the ball of flames above the trees and it was easily 150 to 200 feet up in the air. It was serious," resident Chuck Belczyk told KDKA.
An investigation into the incident is now underway. A landslide that happened near the pipeline could be a possible trigger. Nearly 5 inches of rain fell between Friday night and Monday morning, Trib Live noted, citing National Weather Service data.
The explosion has prompted calls from environmentalists and lawmakers to halt the Sunoco's Mariner East pipeline, which is currently under construction in Pennsylvania.
"I am calling for an immediate halt to all pipeline construction activities," State Rep. Chris Quinn (R-168) said in an online statement. "This pipeline should not be built until the real and legitimate safety and environmental concerns raised by myself and local residents have been fully addressed."
State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19) tweeted that these kinds of pipelines should not be so close to schools, residential neighborhoods and community centers.
"With every week we have more and more evidence why highly volatile natural gas liquid pipelines should not be in high-consequence areas and how Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners have an abysmal track record when it comes to public safety," Dinniman continued. "The explosion in Beaver County is a chilling reminder of just how powerful and dangerous these pipelines can be."
Energy Transfer Partners, which owns more than 83,000 miles of natural gas, crude oil, natural gas liquids and refined products pipelines, is the parent company behind the controversial Dakota Access and Bayou Bridge pipelines.
Waterkeeper Alliance noted that the energy firm has had a history of pipeline accidents.
"Waterkeeper Alliance and Greenpeace meticulously documented more than 500 spills and millions of dollars in fines and property damage by Energy Transfer Partners in a report released earlier this year," Waterkeeper Alliance staff attorney Larissa Liebmann said in a statement received by EcoWatch.
Their April report found that Energy Transfer Partners, its subsidiaries including Sunoco, and joint ventures reported 527 hazardous liquids pipeline incidents to federal regulators from 2002 to 2017, or once every 11 days on average for 16 years.
Monday's explosion, Liebmann continued, "proves that ETP is still putting lives at risk and cannot be trusted to operate pipelines safely, and is a grim reminder of our nation's need to quickly transition to clean and safe forms of energy like solar and wind."
Sam Rubin of Food & Water Watch commented to the Daily Local that the explosion "is a terrifying reminder that pipelines fail."
"Communities across the state face similar risks if the Mariner East 2 pipeline becomes operational," Rubin added. "Governor Tom Wolf has utterly failed to protect public safety so far, but there is still time to avoid catastrophe by stopping Sunoco's Mariner pipeline right now."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Wolves and Jaguars Are Already Threatened by Border Razor Wire As Trump Vetoes Bid to Block Emergency Wall Funding
President Donald Trump issued the first veto of his presidency Friday, overturning Congress' vote to block his national emergency declaration to fund a border wall that environmental advocates say would put 93 endangered species at risk. However, the president's decision came the same day as an in-depth report from UPI revealing how razor wire placed at the border in the last four months already threatens wildlife.
Yet another whale has died after ingesting plastic bags. A young male Cuvier's beaked whale was found washed up in Mabini, Compostela Valley in the Philippines Friday, CNN reported. When scientists from the D' Bone Collector Museum in Davao investigated the dead whale, they found it had died of "dehydration and starvation" after swallowing plastic bags―40 kilograms (approximately 88 pounds) worth of them!
By Joe Sandler Clarke
"Don't expect us to continue buying European products," Malaysia's former plantations minister Mah Siew Keong told reporters in January last year. His comments came just after he had accused the EU of "practising a form of crop apartheid."
A few months later Luhut Pandjaitan, an Indonesian government minister close to President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, warned his country would retaliate if it was "cornered" by the EU.
By Luis Torres
For some people who live along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump's attempt to declare a national emergency and extend the border wall is worse than a wasteful, unconstitutional stunt. It's an attack on their way of life that threatens to desecrate their loved ones' graves.
At least 150 people have died in a cyclone that devastated parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi over the weekend, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people since it hit Mozambique's port city of Beira late Thursday, then traveled west to Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds are still missing and tens of thousands are without access to roads or telephones.
"I think this is the biggest natural disaster Mozambique has ever faced. Everything is destroyed. Our priority now is to save human lives," Mozambique's Environment Minister Celso Correia said, as AFP reported.