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Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project

Sunoco/Energy Transfer Poised to Replace and Relocate a Gasoline Pipeline under the Delaware River near Washington Crossing

An existing gasoline pipeline that goes under the Delaware River from Upper Makefield Township, PA to Hopewell Township, NJ is planning to use Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) to install a new pipeline across and under the Delaware River through a new, deeper HDD pathway into Hopewell Township, replacing exposed pipe in Jacobs Creek. Jacobs Creek is a tributary to the Delaware River and is located along the Hopewell and Ewing Township border in NJ. The new pipeline will connect to the existing Sunoco pipeline in Hopewell Township.

Sunoco Pipeline L.P. (SPLP) owns and operates a 14-inch welded steel high-pressure petroleum products pipeline (“Jacobs Creek Pipeline”) that transports product (gasoline) from Sunoco’s Twin Oaks Terminal in PA to their Newark Facility in NJ. The project area is located near the confluence of the Delaware River and Jacobs Creek where an exposed length of pipeline ­­– length of 301 feet — within the Jacobs Creek bed is to be removed. This replaced section of pipeline will then be connected to approximately 2,500 feet of pipeline that will be installed underneath the Delaware River through the process of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD). The HDD will continue on the New Jersey side of the river through a new pathway using easements on private properties: located at portions of the pathway within the 100-year floodplain; further from Jacobs Creek than the existing pipeline; and mostly still within the Creek’s 150 foot riparian stream buffer, as defined by Hopewell Township.

Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project
Entire Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project

The proposed HDD will commence in Upper Makefield Township, near Washington Crossing PA and emerge in Hopewell Township NJ, and then travel to a proposed tie-in location with the existing pipeline on what is known as the Gristmill property to the east of the Delaware River. The HDD entry points both in PA and New Jersey will be using easements on private residential properties; the NJ properties are “greenfields” because the pipeline is not currently installed at those locations. The proposed HDD will pass under PA SR 32/River Road, the Delaware River, the Delaware and Raritan Canal and Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail, NJ SR 29/River Road, an historic rock and concrete culvert that supports Route 29 and the Canal, and will terminate where the HDD would tie in with a new length of pipeline in the Jacobs Creek buffer. The new length of pipeline will tie in with the existing pipeline at a point to the east in Hopewell Township, moving away from Jacobs Creek. The project will traverse the Delaware and Raritan Canal Historic District and through the 18th Century Gristmill which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The new length of pipe will travel to a proposed tie-in to the existing pipeline, which travels on to Newark, NJ.

To remove the exposed pipe, “Jacobs Creek would be dammed off using sandbags or a port-a-dam to allow access into the stream and to the exposed pipe, which would be cut and capped at this location”, according to D and R Canal Commissions records. Records received from DRN’s file reviews to various agencies will be provided and updated on this web page.

The dangers posed by: inadvertent returns of drilling muds and fluids during HDD drilling and construction; pollution spills; stormwater runoff, erosion and sedimentation to the River, Canal, and Jacobs Creek; disturbance of fish, aquatic life, wildlife and protected species; removal of trees and native vegetation and the need to ensure successful remediation and replacement; damage to Jacobs Creek from the planned temporary obstruction; and accidents during the project are some of the concerns of DRN and the community. Given Sunoco Energy Transfer’s many problems with the poorly executed installation of the Mariner East pipeline installation in PA, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network considers careful monitoring during its construction to be of great importance.

Graphic of Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project
Pennsylvania side of the Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project
Graphic of Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project
Pennsylvania side of the Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project

DRBC approved the project in November of 2021 and the project has received other approvals from PADEP, NJDEP, D and R Canal Commission, NJ Water Supply Authority, and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has also filed OPRAs (NJ Open Public Records Act) and RTK (PA Right to Know Act) requests with several agencies and with Hopewell and Ewing Townships in NJ and Upper Makefield Township in PA to determine where else the project needs approval before construction will actually begin. Currently, the project appears to be waiting on some key approvals and a prohibition on tree cutting is in place under NJDEP requirements until August 31 for the protection of birds. An exact date of construction has yet to be determined. This page will be kept up to date as new information is learned.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network is actively gathering information on the Jacobs Creek Pipeline project and will be offering free monitoring training to residents who want to monitor the project. DRN is also establishing lines of communication with the overseeing permitting agencies for reporting purposes. To sign up for training contact:

October 2022 Update:

As of 10/21/2022 Sunoco began the Horizontal Directional Drilling in Upper Makefield Twp., PA to drill under the Delaware River and through to the NJ Side of the project. Hopewell Township has a tree removal application that has been approved for Sunoco to remove 46 trees without replacement and instead to donate to the Hopewell Tree Escrow fund for Lot 6. Lots 9 and 10, the trees will be replaced with 76 trees yet to have size and type determined. The permit for tree removal was approved by Hopewell Township subject to the following conditions: 1. Prior to tree removal, Sunoco shall prepare a performance bond estimate for review and approval by the Township Engineer. The performance bond shall be posted with the Township Clerk. 2. Prior to tree planting, Sunoco shall submit a tree replacement plan for review and approval by the Township Engineer and 3. Payment into Tree Fund Escrow shall be submitted prior to tree removal. DRN is still working on obtaining a construction schedule of how the project is planned to progress. At this time, it is unknown when staging  will begin on the NJ side of the project, along Jacobs Creek.

The HDD drilling is very loud with a banging sound that echoes in the area around the Upper Makefield Twp. location. For a video report go here:

November 2022 Upate:

Delaware Riverkeeper Network is continuing to monitor the progress of the Jacobs Creek Pipeline project that spans the PA and NJ side of the Delaware River. The HDD process on the PA side began in the first week of November and we believe has concluded on the NJ side. DRN is currently seeking confirmation on this and the following construction and remediation steps that will be taking place in Jacobs Creek and through the New Jersey portion of the project. On the PA side, community monitors alerted DRN to unusual hoses they saw in Houghs Creek. DRN then sent a letter to Sunoco, Upper Makefield, and Bucks County Conservation District asking the purposes of the hoses and whether the site had the Best Management Practices in place. Upon sending this letter it does seem hay bales that were not previously present were then brought to the site and DRN was assured by Bucks County Conservation District and Upper Makefield Township that the hoses and site were in compliance with all regulations (documents below).

December 2022 Update:

The Jacobs Creek Pipeline project is ongoing and currently much of the operations and construction are now on the NJ side of the project in Hopewell Township. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, through file review requests, became aware of a 2 gallon bentonite drilling fluid spill next to the upland area of Jacobs Creek as a result of ongoing construction with the Jacobs Creek Pipeline project.  The spill incident was reported to the appropriate agencies and at such time the spill was cleaned up with hand tools and contained using a temporary compost filter sock. DRN has sent an inquiry to NJDEP to ask further about any continued monitoring with the spill and what is being done to prevent future incidents like this as the project moves forward.

March 2023 Update: 

From DRN’s findings the above mentioned Bentonite spill has been cleaned up and preventative measures taken. The HDD process under the Delaware River and into New Jersey has been undertaken and finished. The project at Jacobs Creek on the New Jersey side of the river involves removing the old pipeline that has become exposed in the creek bed and replacing it with a new pipeline. DRN is currently working to find a schedule of when or if this removal of the old pipeline has taken place yet by reaching out to the various agencies and Sunoco itself.

April 2023 Update: 

The relocation portion of the Jacobs Creek Pipeline Project is now complete and the exposed pipeline located within Jacobs Creek in NJ is grouted in place and is in-active. DRN has been informed that due to a moratorium on in-stream activities currently, construction operations are paused until at least after July 31. It is expected that removal of the exposed section of pipeline will resume in August with final restoration happening in September or October, or throughout both months.