Category Archives: Construction and Storage Yards

Cart Before the Horse

In her guest column in the September 21, 2018, Staunton News Leader (West Augusta pipe yard is putting the ‘cart before the horse’), Nancy Sorrells discusses Dominion’s request to the Augusta Board of Zoning Appeals for a proposed pipe yard in West Augusta. She notes that when FERC was contacted to verify Dominion’s Emmett Toms’ statement to the BZA that they had approval to “leave the thousand dump truck loads of contaminated gravel from the parking area in a pile in the field after construction, rather than take the cleaned gravel to an approved landfill as is standard procedure,” they were told by FERC that “the contractor/pipe yard you referenced below has not been proposed to FERC.”

Further, the area where Dominion proposes the pipe yard (that FERC doesn’t know about) is one that has paved roads of “less than minimum design standards” because the county agreed in 2010 that the area is not to be the target of any development, and therefore should certainly not “have the kind of traffic and heavy equipment that would occur on this road for two years or more with ACP’s proposed construction yard.”

She concludes, “So there you have it: Dominion has proposed something that both DEQ and FERC are unaware of in an area that the county has legally promised never to develop. Cart before the horse? In reality there never should have been a cart or a horse proposed here.”

POSTPONED – Augusta County Alliance Asks for Meeting Attendees on July 10, 2018


UPDATE:  According to the July 6, 2018, Staunton News Leader, the July 10 hearing was postponed by the Board of Zoning Appeals to meet requirements as described in the Code of Virginia for the appropriate advertisement of such hearings. A new hearing date will be set.

The Augusta County Alliance is calling for the community’s help to keep Dominion honest as it continues pushing ahead on its plans for this destructive, unsafe, and unnecessary pipeline project. They need your attendance at the Staunton Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 2 p.m. in the Staunton City Council Chambers (116 W Beverley St., Staunton, VA, 24401).

Apparently Dominion has been storing heavy construction equipment, buses, and supplies for pipeline construction on a lot owned by Staunton Tractor off Richmond Avenue. The city of Staunton informed Staunton Tractor that creating a “contractor’s equipment storage area” is not a permitted use at that site. In a notice of violation sent to Staunton Tractor, the city’s Planning & Zoning Division noted: “As we understand it, this equipment is not part of your inventory for sale and is not present for repair work to be done on it. This part of the property is being used essentially as a contractors’ establishment, serving as an operation staging site for a contractor.”

Staunton Tractor has appealed the notice of violation, asserting that the land is grandfathered in for storage of equipment and that the equipment is being stored there so that it can be repaired and maintained.

The matter will be heard by the Staunton Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday, July 10 at 2 p.m. in the Staunton City Council Chambers. This is a public hearing and your comments are important! Remind Staunton Tractor and Dominion that rules are there for a reason and everyone has to play by the same rule book.

Come out and voice your opinion!

For further information, email info@augustacountyalliance.org.

Highland County Considers ACP Applications

In their meeting on April 26, 2018, the Highland County Board of Supervisors and Highland County Planning Commission held hearings and reviewed applications related to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

Supervisors cited neighborhood incompatibility and denied the application to rezone the Jack Mountain Village property in Monterey, tabled the application to rezone a property in McDowell from residential to agricultural so the property will no longer be used for the pipeline project, and tabled action on the request for a conditional use permit for a construction yard on the same property.

Planners forwarded to the Supervisors with no recommendation the application for a conditional use permit for an RV park/camp on a property in the Blue Grass; Supervisors decided to wait for new zoning ordinance language regarding temporary work camps before considering the request. Planners found the pipeline project to be substantially in accord with the Highland County Comprehensive Plan.

Pipe Storage: Write to PHMSA

Bill Limpert in Bath County has written to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the US Department of Transportation agency responsible for developing and enforcing regulations for the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure. With his permission, we are sharing his letter.  He urges others to write their own letters to PHMSA about the long term storage issues with pipes, and the many reasons we know pipe cannot be stockpiled or stored long-term without grave consequences.

Send letters to:
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
820 Bear Tavern Road
West Trenton, NJ 08628
Attn: Robert Burrough, Acting Director, Eastern Region

Here is Bill Limpert’s excellent letter:

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
820 Bear Tavern Road
West Trenton, NJ 08628
Attn: Robert Burrough
Acting Director, Eastern Region
Re: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Pipe Safety
April 17, 2018

Dear Mr. Burrough:

I am writing to you to request a PHMSA investigation into unsafe storage practices, and other safety concerns regarding the pipes that are proposed for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

I am concerned about the protective corrosion prevention coating on the pipes being damaged by exposure to sunlight, or by other means, including vandalism, or contact with other stored pipes. I am also concerned about the use of cheap foreign steel in these pipes.

Dura Bond advises that the pipes for the ACP were produced from late 2015 through March, 2017. So all of the pipes are over a year old, and some are over two years old. The ACP is already a year behind schedule, and has not received all necessary permits to begin construction. Even under the revised schedule, some of these pipes will not be placed into the ground until late 2019, and that optimistic time frame remains uncertain.

I have been advised that Dura-Bond, the manufacturer of the pipes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, states that the pipes should not be left in sunlight for more than 9
months, and we are already well past that time frame.

Pipes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline were found to be stored outside, in direct sunlight, and subject to other adverse weather conditions in Charlottesville Virginia as early as July of 2016. These pipes were also in an unsecured location where vandals or others could access and damage them.

I have seen images of a very large pipe storage location in an open field near Beckley, West Virginia, near the intersection of Routes 19 and I-77. These images can be found on the cover and first page of the April/May 2018 edition of The Appalachian Voice. These images show very large pipes stacked 4 high, and likely in direct contact with pipes above, below, and on either side. I am concerned that this apparent direct contact with other very heavy pipes will damage the exterior corrosion protection.

I am also concerned about foreign steel in the ACP pipes, and I recall that PHMSA was forced to require replacement of foreign steel pipes some years ago due to inferior and unsafe steel.

Joseph Klesin of your office kindly visited us on October 31, 2017, and we enjoyed spending time with him. I discussed my concerns with pipes stored in the open at that time. Mr. Klesin advised that pipes stored in the open for one year would probably lose 1 or 2 millimeters of external corrosion protection due to exposure to sunlight. He advised that this was within the acceptable safety range of corrosion protection loss. He further advised that leaving pipes exposed to sunlight for two years would constitute an unacceptable safety risk.

During that visit Mr. Klesin also advised that pipeline companies are not required to backfill the pipeline trench with soil, as is shown on the typical drawings in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s environmental impact statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. He stated that the trench could be backfilled with crushed rock. This conversation was prompted by my pointing out that there is very little soil on the proposed 3,000 foot long path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on steep and narrow Miracle Ridge on my property. I believe that crushed rock could damage the pipe’s external corrosion protection in any location, and particularly under the pressure of 25 feet of rock overburden in a trench on an extremely steep slope of up to 58% as would be required to place the pipeline through our property. Similar extreme conditions exist elsewhere in Western Virginia and West Virginia.

Please investigate and advise me of the following:

– Where are the pipes for the ACP being stored, and are they exposed to sunlight?
– Are the pipes in contact with one another?- How long have the pipes been stored? Please advise the various ages of pipe by percentage and type of pipe.
– Does Dura Bond recommend that the pipes be put into service within 9 months of manufacture, or other recommendations for storage prior to being put into service?
– What type of corrosion protection is used on the pipe? Please specify manufacturer and name of product. If the type of corrosion protection varies, please advise how it varies per the type of pipe and the location where the pipe will be placed.
– What is the maximum operating temperature of the pipe at 1.5 bcf/d, 2.0 bcf/d, and 2.25 bcf/d?
– Has any consideration been given to increased pipe temperatures due to heated groundwater in some karst areas? There is a large active hot spring near our home.
– What pipe is made of foreign steel, what is the country or countries of origin, and where will that pipe be located?

These issues are very important to my wife and I, our neighbors, and many others in the zone of incineration, the evacuation zone, and otherwise on, or near the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The extreme terrain in our area, and other areas of Western Virginia and West Virginia makes pipeline safety even more important. The pipeline would be placed on our property and in Little Valley on extreme slopes with recent landslides within several hundred feet of the route, narrow ridges, karst terrain with sinkholes, and under Little Valley Run, which recently flooded, and deposited many large boulders that relocated the channel within 200 feet of the proposed crossing. Just two days ago another large flood resulted in out of bank flow on many of the proposed stream crossings in our area. As we have previously advised, my wife and I, and a number of our neighbors are located in the zone of incineration for the pipeline, and we would be trapped in the evacuation zone at the head of the valley if we initially survived a pipeline incident, with no chance of rescue.

Additionally, the reduced pipeline safety regulations, remoteness, and fewer emergency response resources for rural areas like ours leave us at greater risk that those in more populated areas.

In my opinion, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been less than professional and forthright in their response to the many responsibilities they have in preparing to undertake this dangerous project. In case after case, they have failed to provide needed information and analysis to regulatory agencies. They have repeatedly cut corners to their benefit, and at public expense. I am concerned that they are doing the same regarding pipeline safety.

Please note that I am still attempting to have Dominion conduct a geohazard survey on our property, and I will be sending yet another letter to Dominion to try to accomplish that. Should Dominion finally make that inspection, I will advise you and Mr. Klesin. Mr. Klesin previously advised that he would like to participate in that inspection, and I would like him, or another PHMSA representative to be there if at all possible.

Thank you again for your assistance, and your public service.

Rainy Days, High Water

Watch Richard Averitt’s quick video, made on Sunday, February 11, 2018, to document the very regular but significant rainfall over the weekend and how the proposed location of the ACP staging areas and pipe across Spruce Creek is destined to fail and wreck this pristine stream. This same thing is playing out across thousands of streams in Virginia.

Unprepared: Judge Faults MVP, Highland Planning Comm. Faults ACP


The February 1, 2018, Roanoke Times reports, “With just a few hours remaining until Thursday, the day that Mountain Valley Pipeline had hoped to start work on a natural gas pipeline through Southwest Virginia, a judge put a pause to those plans. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon came during a proceeding in which Mountain Valley had sued nearly 300 property owners who refused to surrender their land for the controversial project. Although the laws of eminent domain give Mountain Valley the power to obtain forced easements for its buried pipeline, Dillon ruled, she rejected the company’s request for immediate access to the parcels. Facing a tight deadline to have trees felled along the pipeline’s route by March 31 to meet federal wildlife protections, Mountain Valley executed what’s called a quick-take condemnation. That process might have allowed the company to start work by Thursday on the disputed properties. But first, Mountain Valley was required to demonstrate it could pay the property owners just compensation for the easements — at prices to be determined at trials later, likely well after construction had begun. Such a demonstration would have included paying a bond or deposit with the court. At a hearing earlier this month, Mountain Valley presented appraisals for just nine of the nearly 300 properties, which Dillon said was insufficient information on which to base an appropriate bond amount. ‘Until MVP can provide a more fulsome basis on which the court can assure that just compensation will be paid, the court cannot allow immediate possession at this time to nearly all of the properties,’ Dillon wrote in a 52-page decision released shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday.”

Read Judge Dillon’s Opinion here and her Order here.

As reported by the February 1, 2018, Highlander, the Highland County Planning Commission at their January 25, 2018, meeting based their decisions on the many mistakes and unanswered questions in Dominion’s presentation requesting local permits for lay-down yards and crossing easements. This is the first time county planners have been given an opportunity to see what Dominion proposes – including heavy truck traffic for 10 hour/day on 6 and perhaps 7 days a week over steep, narrow, and winding roads, giant equipment traveling more than 10 miles on those roads, permanent access roads on steep mountain slope (with more mileage than the pipeline itself), unsecured construction yards, lack of reliable water sources for dust control, lack of a traffic study requested by Virginia’s Dept. of Transportation. “It was no surprise to anyone, except county staff, that the applications submitted were full of holes and mistakes. Landowners all along the pipeline’s proposed path in three states have found hundreds of errors made by the company over the last few years, from egregious omissions to simple math mistakes.”

“Citing numerous errors and inadequacies, the Highland County Planning Commission on Jan. 25 voted to set one public hearing, but tabled two other land-use applications for Dominion to establish proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction lay-down material storage yards.”