Category Archives: Compressor Stations

Proposed ACP Construction Schedule


Here is Dominion’s PROPOSED schedule for ACP construction.

Don’t forget that when they sent their original “we want your land” letters in spring 2014, Dominion planned to start construction of the ACP in the Fall of 2016 and have it in service sometime early in 2018. But Dominion did not expect so many people and organizations to fight back! And now, 3.5 years later, construction hasn’t started yet, but Dominion has a proposed construction plan.

According to their October 18, 2017, FERC filing, Dominion hopes to start the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under the Blue Ridge Parkway at the entrance to Wintergreen on April 2, 2018, with work continuing for 372 days, finishing up on April 9, 2019.

In the rest of the Nelson (and much of Augusta) construction is included in “Spread 5.” Dominion proposes starting with a one-day (yes, one day only!) environmental mitigation training on March 6, 2019. They expect construction to start on March 15, 2019 and anticipate it will take 123 days, ending by September 3, 2019. They then plan 30 days of restoration work between September 4 and October 15, 2019. (Apparently Dominion believes the process of restoring the mountains to their “original contours” should go pretty quickly!)

The planned “commissioning” process would begin before the restoration is complete and is expected to last from August 1 – October 31, 2019.

Dominion’s proposed plan does not specify when tree felling might happen along our part of the route. However tree felling, planned in both 2018 and 2019 in Virginia overall, is slated for September-March in areas where migratory birds are a concern and for November-March in areas where bats are a concern.

They plan to begin construction of the Buckingham compressor station on June 1, 2018, and anticipate finishing on August 16, 2019. Compressor station construction workers will also get a single day of environmental and mitigation training, currently scheduled for May 22, 2018.

Dominion plans call for the rest of the construction in Buckingham (which is part of “Spread 6”) to start on February 18, 2018 and continue through November 5, 2018.

Remember – this is Dominion’s proposed schedule. They never expected to run into so much resistance. And we are STILL fighting. And we have lawyers that are STILL fighting, including filing new legal challenges that could not be filed until after FERC made its decision. There are lots of required permits that STILL have not been issued — including permits that Nelson County has the authority to refuse. The longer and louder we fight, the more people are having to listen. Even long-time FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur voted AGAINST the approval of the ACP. A couple of years ago, such a thing would have been unthinkable.

So, keep making your voices heard! Tell people we won’t pipe down. Tell DEQ and the Water Control Boards not to compromise Virginia’s waterways in service of Dominion’s profits. And make sure you let your elected (and to-be-elected) representatives — especially the local ones — know that you expect them to support us in fighting to keep the ACP off our lands.

People’s Tribunal – A Community at Risk


We commend to our readers the October 20, 2017, edition of Appalachian Voices Front Porch Blog, A People’s Tribunal on Environmental Justice Impacts of Fracked Gas, written by Lakshmi Fjord, about the Union Hill community in Buckingham County and the need for the Tribunal on October 28, 2017.

Rural Buckingham County is at the exact center of Virginia, where Dominion provides neither gas service nor electricity to most of the county because it’s unprofitable to do so in such a rural area. But Dominion chose this as the site for the single compressor station in Virginia, secretly purchasing “68 acres of land with a large wetland from descendants of plantation owners at 10 times the market value in the middle of Union Hill, a historic Freedmen community. And now, those heritage lands owned by Freedmen descendants that have tied their generations to this land and place have lost most of their value.”

In addition to illuminating community history, a door-to-door survey of 99 households within a mile of the compressor stations site revealed, among other things, “that the population of Union Hill is five times greater than what Dominion reported to FERC. Union Hill’s actual population qualifies it as a ‘suburban’ neighborhood under the federal government’s pipeline safety standards. This means that Dominion must apply more safety measures on the pipeline in Union Hill, including using thicker pipes and installing shut-off values closer together. But Dominion’s documentation makes no change from its construction plans for rural areas, with thinner pipes and farther distances between the shut-off valves. The higher standards would be especially critical in Buckingham County, which has a 120-year history of earthquakes.”

As a rural area, Union Hill has a higher than average air quality, and state law would therefore perversely allow Dominion to release toxic gases at higher rates from the compressor station, exemplifying the cost-benefits of racism in Buckingham County and Virginia.

The People’s Tribunal on Environmental Justice and Fracked Gas, October 28, 11:45 a.m. to 7 p.m., City Space, Charlottesville, aims “to document and record in one informative narrative the voices of the people most impacted by these proposed pipelines, the scientific data about pipeline hazards and impacts, and the economics showing the projects are not needed for any public good, making the communities’ forced sacrifices that much more egregious.” Featuring nationally acclaimed community activist Lois Gibbs, environmental attorney and toxicologist Adrienne Hollis, and anthropologist of indigenous and environmental justice James Igoe.

More information on the People’s Tribunal here.

Read the full Front Porch blog post here.

The People’s Tribunal


The People’s Tribunal on human rights, environmental justice, and the impacts of fracked gas infrastructure will be held on Saturday October 28, 2017, 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., at City Space, 100 5th Street NE., Charlottesville, VA.

While many know about the environmental hazards of fracked natural gas pipelines, few people know who is being forced to give up their human rights to clean air, water, and soil for the economic benefit of corporate stockholders. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) routes target rural, poor, African American, Native American, and Appalachian communities from West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina to bear the disproportionate burden of their toxic, polluting fracked natural gas infrastructure.

A people’s tribunal creates a public forum to present evidence for and information about issues critical to a just and civil society, especially when local, state, and federal governments are not responsive to public concerns. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the Human Rights Impacts of Fracking call on member nations to:

“Undertake independent and effective investigation into all cases of environmentally polluting activities and their impacts on the rights of affected communities; bring those responsible to account; and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.”

Experts in the fields of environmental and medical science, environmental justice, Virginia Slave and Freedmen, Native American and Appalachian history, and fracked gas economics will preside as Judges to hear first-person impacts and expert testimonies. Judges’ findings and recommendations will be sent to these human rights committees and will form the basis around which local groups can organize.

Who is at risk?

  • Union Hill in Buckingham, Virginia is an 85% African American community built by Freedmen. White descendants of former plantation owners sold their land to the ACP LLC where the only Virginia megacompressor station is to be built, within 150 ft. of households in this populous minority community. Compressor stations pose documented health and safety risks with their release of highly toxic gas emissions, air-borne particulates, and continuous noise pollution.
  • The area in West VA where the MVP & ACP jumbo pipelines begin will be replete with (more) compressor stations, metering stations, extraction plants, cryogenic plants, and soon, cracker plants and more fracking than ever. West Virginians are the source colony, yet they get little attention or help.
  • Across the U.S., new pipelines leak, break, and explode more often than even those 40 years old, causing permanent well-water, stream and river contamination, and destruction of property and its value, a nightmare for those unlucky to live in their path. Landowners along the ACP and MVP are coerced by threats of eminent domain to give up their property rights and live with these risks. Several Native American communities are directly impacted and all proposed routes were once Native American lands.

For more information, including the list of sponsoring organizations, see the People’s Tribunal flyer here.

The Tribunal Registration Form is here.

The Tribunal Testimony Sign-Up Form is here.

Video: Historic Union Hill Community Threatened by ACP

Historic Union Hill Community Threatened by Atlantic Coast Pipeline from Unicorn Riot on Vimeo.

In early September 2017, activists kayaked the James River along the planned route of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The pipeline route goes from West Virginia to North Carolina with plans to connect it to the Transco line, also in Union Hill, where the two will intersect and connect to export facilities.

Dominion plans to build a large compressor station for the pipeline in Union Hill, a historic Black community founded by descendants of freed slaves in unincorporated Buckingham County near the Cumberland State Forest, west of Richmond. Local residents see the pipeline company’s disregard for their community as part of an established history of environmental racism in Virginia.

Video production & reporting contributed by Sammy DiDonato

End of the Line: Episode 3, “Heart”


End of the Line podcasts cover conflicts over pipeline construction in Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states. In Episode 3: “Heart,”  we hear about the human cost of the heart of a pipeline.

In Union Hill neighborhood of Buckingham county, a plot of land is proposed as the site of a compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Compressor stations are the heart of the pipeline, pressurizing gas to be pumped across hundreds of miles. A compressor station is the lynchpin of a pipeline, as well as the most dangerous piece of infrastructure. Union Hill neighborhood, where the station is proposed to be built, is a predominantly African-American neighborhood founded by slaves freed after the Civil War. How does the history of this neighborhood coincide with the construction of a large, noisy, dirty and dangerous compressor station? How have the people most affected by its construction responded? Have elected officials or corporate decision makers heard their voices?

In the midst of turmoil surrounding historic erasure in the south, this episode tells the unique and troubling story of land, ownership and theft in the neighborhood of Union Hill, Buckingham County, Virginia.

Letter to DEQ Urges Careful Review of Pipeline Company Practices

Friends of Nelson Board member Marilyn Shifflett has written a thoroughly researched letter to David Paylor, Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), urging DEQ to carefully consider the long-term consequences of pipeline construction and citing abundant evidence of the extensive damage done by companies during construction and their unwillingness to address permanent damage after construction completion.

In her letter, dated July 14, 2017, she writes, “Patterns concerning construction of these projects have emerged that are alarming, to say the least. Included in this letter, are “situations” and violations during pipeline construction that are seen all too often. While the FERC has intervened in a small number of cases; in the majority of these situations, both the FERC and the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of issuing the nationwide permits for wetland and stream crossings have not reacted at all. The VA DEQ is inarguably now reviewing the greatest environmental challenge ever faced in our State from these two proposed mammoth pipelines. Thousands of acres of protective forested land will be stripped, and nearly two thousand streams will be crossed with countless wetland areas impacted. While the task is monumental, it’s vital that the VA DEQ consider the overall behavior of the natural gas industry and ongoing pipeline construction. The following information and related links serve as testament to this industry’s activities after lengthy reviews and permits are issued, and validates the concerns expressed by residents all along the routes of the ACP & MVP. The highly sensitive environmental areas coupled with the steeps slopes of these particular routes exacerbate the issues Virginians will likely be left to deal with if either or both of these pipelines are ever constructed.”

Shifflett goes on to summarize the extensive environmental, regulatory, and compressor station violations by a number of pipeline companies, including Dominion. She points out that “These pipeline companies routinely allow the violations to stack up, simply pay the fines, and consider them part of the cost of doing business. There is no clear intent on their part to honor agreements made to institute ‘best practices.’ The regulatory process often doesn’t react quickly enough to forestall damages, and the violation notice process is complicated and lengthy, allowing these companies to complete projects before damages can be further avoided. Is the VA DEQ prepared to monitor construction of both the ACP and the MVP simultaneously? Is the VA DEQ willing to shut down construction on the entire route through VA when the first violation occurs?”

She cites some specific examples of Dominion violations:

  • Dominon G-150 8″ pipeline in WV: These violations are a stark example of Dominion’s lack of commitment to best practices for a pipeline less than one fifth the diameter of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline; a small pipeline constructed on the steep slopes of West Virginia without many of the complications expected from the much larger ACP.
  • Dominion Transmission, Multiple Sites, PA & WV: Records from the Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration cite Dominion for multiple safety and regulatory regulations.
  • Dominion Transmission, Fink Kennedy Storage, West Virginia: Again, Dominion is cited for multiple violations at this site from Sept., 2009 through June, 2010. Dominion has a pattern of lengthy response times to violations at their facilities and seems rarely to take corrective actions until violations and orders are issued. These are not the actions of a company committed to safe operation and concern for residents living nearby.

Shifflett concludes, “The preceding lengthy information is offered as a record of the behavior of the natural gas industry and stands as a testament to concerns expressed by Virginia residents along the routes of these pipelines…. The routes of the ACP and the MVP were chosen for cost savings related to easement purchases and relaxed regulation in sparsely populated areas. The VA DEQ is obligated to look beyond costs to these companies; judging these routes based solely on environmental realities. The majority of the ACP/MVP routes are through terrain unsuitable for a 42” high pressure pipeline and the damage will be irreparable. The deforestation of thousands of acres for right-of-ways, access roads, and temporary work spaces will leave a lasting impact on the Chesapeake Bay and the decades of efforts to clean up this precious Virginia resource. And certainly, the VA DEQ will realize after examining applications from these companies, that they have little to offer in the way of detailed slope analyses, and stream crossing plans that will avoid permanent damage to environmentally sensitive areas. Given the predictable actions of the natural gas industry, approval of the ACP or the MVP will surely lead to additional companies following suit and Virginia will be facing additional damage. With a 14% guaranteed return from FERC approval, Dominion and EQT will not be the only companies looking to profit off the backs of Virginia citizens. Virginia residents have taken the time to thoroughly review these projects and ask that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality do the same. Please reconsider allotted comment periods, and schedule public meeting only after all reports are available for review by residents.”

Read the full text of Shifflett’s letter here. The letter also appeared in full in The Recorder for July 20. 2017.