Category Archives: Citizen Surveillance

Active Landslide Threatens Homes

Photo courtesy of Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance: Pipeline Air Force

An active landslide originating on the Mountain Valley Pipeline right of way on a steep slope has made a house NOT in the construction area uninhabitable.

On July 29, 2019, MVP filed a variance request for slip remediation with FERC, and just 10 days later admitted to FERC that over three months it had been unable to stop the earth movement, requesting “emergency authorization” to stabilize the landslide, because lives were in danger. The letter said, “The progression of the slide caused additional area outside the limits of disturbance to destabilize, uprooted numerous large trees, has the potential to impact an aquatic resource, and has progressed to the point where a residence directly downslope is unsafe to be occupied.”

On August 13, FERC granted MVP’s emergency request, saying, “A recent field inspection by one of our compliance monitors confirms that portions of the slip are still moving and could compromise the residence. The slide must be stabilized before it causes damage or injury to the residence and aquatic resources located down slope of the slide.”

Jonathan Sokolow, in two articles in Medium (Definition of Insanity: Mountain Valley Pipeline Asks for “Emergency Authorization” to Prevent a Life Threatening Landslide on August 9 and Photos of Insanity: Active Landslide Threatens Lives Along Route of Mountain Valley Pipeline on August 15), points out that while this particular landslide is on a steep slope in West Virginia, there are hundreds of similarly steep slopes along the route of the MVP and of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, all with potential for similar landslides threatening lives and residences.

In his August 15 article, Sokolow writes, “Common sense would seem to dictate that emergency inspections be conducted on each steep slope in Virginia and West Virginia to make sure no similar emergencies are developing. Prudence would indicate that all work on the pipeline be stopped until those inspections are complete. Yet in the days since this active ’emergency’ (MVP’s word) became public, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, whose job is to inspect and regulate this project, has said or done nothing. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring have been silent. In fact, most elected officials in Virginia seems to be ignoring this brewing disaster. In other words, regulators refuse to regulate, and leaders refuse to lead. We now have photos of this crime scene, but no thanks to government officials. We have photos thanks to ordinary citizens and an incredible effort known as the ‘Pipeline Air Force,’ a project of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance. …. Virginia has the power to stop work now on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, to stop this misnamed “engineering marvel” before gravity does its work, before someone gets hurt. As we said before, this is an emergency. Just ask MVP.”

Joshua Vana Sings “To the River” at Yellow Finch Blockade

Message from Joshua Vana:

Y’all, there’s this thing I do sometimes where I go sing and play to folks who are living in trees and meanwhile directly preventing the advance of billion dollar corporations plundering Appalachia.

Yesterday I was at the Yellow Finch Blockade on day 331 of uninterrupted tree sits, saying ‘thank you’ and enjoying the company of the good folks there. I found some time in between the roar of backhoes, all perfectly perched to flip over at any moment on the side of the ridge directly across the road, to play this song I wrote this past spring called “To The River”.

It’s difficult for me to explain witnessing the song play out in real life as it’s sung – but I can say that I rarely feel more grounded and alive than when I’m with so many others who are risking something – anything – time, energy, money, safety, hope, to maintain a future we can thrive in (or simply survive in).

One of the things I can offer to the world, to a decent society, in times of struggle (though there seem to be quite a few these days, and multiplying) is music. It’s important for communities to tell their own story of resistance and I think this tune is in that greater songbook somewhere.

There are some fires burning in Appalachia that we’d like to keep lit. Some of ’em are being cared for by Appalachians Against Pipelines. I’d like to encourage you to look into this little corner of a greater movement for water protection and community defense and maybe consider supporting them at bit.ly/supportmvpresistance. They’d appreciate any help you might be able to offer, and so would the folks who’ve been fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline for five long years.

Thanks for reading, listening – and for those ‘in between’, you know who you are.

Catalog of Disasters

In an article published July 17, 2019, DC Media Group reports on the catalog of disasters inflicted by the Mountain Valley Pipeline on the LaFerriere family and their Blackberry Springs Farm in West Virginia. In September 2018, despite cease and desist orders, the organic farm was showered repeatedly with pellets of Earth Guard Edge dropped from helicopters. The pellets are an erosion control product containing acrylamide, a carcinogen. LaFerriere, his wife and children, and an intern were all struck by the pellets while harvesting ginseng a quarter mile from the MVP right of way, with resulting contusions and lacerations. Specialists said nothing could be done to mitigate the damage, since once the pellet gets wet, it gets into the soil.  The organic status of the farm has been jeopardized.

“MVP is required to adhere to an Organic Management Plan it filed with FERC, but LaFerriere said they still hadn’t provided him with any information with regard to its implementation. He claims he hasn’t been allowed to speak with the expert from the International Organic Inspectors Association hired by MVP–who has been out to the property twice–and he still hasn’t received a complete list of materials that MVP would be using on the farm. MVP also wouldn’t tell him much about the pale green coating on the 42″ diameter pipeline. His concern about the coating degrading and contaminating the soil and water is shared by FERC, which last week sent a letter to MVP asking about its safety after two years of sitting in the sun.”

Last year, LaFerriere asked for 72 hours notice before MVP cut trees in the right-of-way so he could move some materials. They failed to give notice, and felled trees on the materials, ruining them. MVP had to pay to replace them.

MVP maintains they have “retained an organic consultant to train workers and environmental inspectors and monitor construction activities and remediation. LaFerriere said that no monitors or inspectors have been introduced to them, and he has not seen anyone on site that he can identify as a organically trained monitor.”

Because Laferriere believed MVP wasn’t honoring its organic management plan requirements, he sent yet another cease and desist order; MVP representatives agreed to meet with him, but cancelled at the last minute.

On July 16, only an hour after the scheduled (ten cancelled) meeting meant to discuss the Laferriere’s concerns over MVP’s failure to adhere to the organic management plan requirements, “an excavator operating on the right-of-way tipped over onto its side. The excavator was on relatively flat terrain, not on a steep hill or slope, LaFerriere said. Fluids spilled out, and nearly 20 workers were required to bag soil that was contaminated. He didn’t observe any barrier or protective silt socks put in place to contain the spill. The driver was able to exit the excavator and walk away with the assistance of co-workers.”

The article notes that, “Problems with MVP construction have not been limited to Blackberry Springs Farm. MVP was cited with more than 300 violations by the end of 2018 alone. As a consequence, many of the pipeline’s permits have been revoked. FERC has approved 125 requests by MVP to deviate from its original work plan, and most appear to be related to efforts correct erosion events.”

Also in recent days, MVP construction materials in Virginia were swept down the Blackwater River by heavy rains, ending up in Smith Mountain Lake, where they are a safety hazard, particularly for boaters. Because of its many violations in Virginia, attorney general Mark Herring filed a civil lawsuit against MVP in October 2018. But because he refuses to issue a stop work order, construction and the resulting devastation continues.

Read the full DC Media Group article here.

Related article in the July 15, 2019 Virginia Mercury, MVP’s violations show ‘complete absence of any and all meaningful regulation’

Tree Cutting on Rainbow Ridge

We are aware of the tree cutting work happening in the Rainbow Ridge area in Nelson County and have been investigating.  As of this writing (Thursday afternoon June 6, 2019) we believe the issue is a dispute between private landowners and boundary and/or access issues.  We do not believe ACP LLC contractors are involved in the current observed work.

Please continue to post updates to the CSI website (http://www.abra-csi.org/citizen-reporting) to enable us to investigate and monitor.  When you see something that you believe could be a violation, even if you’re not sure, you can call the CSI hotline at (877) 462-2272 to leave a voicemail, or send an email to csi@abralliance.org describing the who, what, when, and where of the situation you’ve observed.  If you have any good pictures, they are always helpful to include.

Core Samples and Survey Flags


Just a heads up to citizens and visitors of Nelson County: in recent days F & R workers have been drilling “core samples” and leaving behind some new survey flags at various locations where ACP proposes to cross Nelson’s roads. Rte 29, Rte 151 and Beech Grove Road are among the locations where citizen monitors have reported this activity, and we expect ACP will probably do this at many, if not all, of the proposed road crossings in the coming days. Please note that we are aware of this activity and are keeping a watchful eye. This is ACP doing further geotechnical studies, not ACP starting to do the actual drilling/construction under our roads.

If you see something noteworthy or something that concerns you, please alert Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program by calling 877-Go2ABRA, by emailing CSI@abralliance.org.

Mountain Valley Watch Mapping Webinar Planned for May 7

Mountain Valley Watch (MVW), a pipeline surveillance program sponsored by the POWHR coalition, and Trout Unlimited are sponsoring a special free webinar on the MVW mapping system on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at 7 pm. MVW was developed to allow for citizen oversight of the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and to facilitate the enforcement of environmental protections and regulations during that process.

The webinar will be conducted by Jason Shelton of MVW and will help participants learn how to leverage the MVW mapping system to assist monitoring efforts and take citizen oversight to the next level. Among topics to be covered are erosion and sediment control plans, aerial photos and locating and sharing information about established and potential water or visual monitoring locations. Click here for more info and to register for the webinar.