Category Archives: Construction

Dominion Open Houses

Dominion is holding construction and job fair open houses in Augusta County on April 24 and  Buckingham County on April 25 (see below and on Events calendar for details) to enlighten us about “construction activities, including safety measures.”

Writing in the April 19, 2018 News Leader, Nancy Sorrells, with Friends of Augusta, has some suggestions for questions you might ask:

  • How many jobs will there be for residents of Augusta/Buckingham Counties?
  • Dominion referred to approximately 400 workers showing up each day at the proposed Churchville pipe yard in Augusta, so you might inquire as to where those folks will be living.
  • For communities being impacted by an influx of workers, will Dominion share numbers, expected traffic counts, and roadways being traveled, vital information for area residents who might want to adjust commuter schedules, to schools that might want to alter bus routes, and to our emergency services?
  • Ask for specifics on the length of time pipes can be exposed to sunlight and weather events before the coating starts to degrade, thus endangering communities through which the compromised pipe will run.
  • Ask why pipelines built in the 21st century are failing at a rate faster than any time in history, more often than those put in the ground in the 1940s.
  • Ask Dominion if it is true that they plan to dynamite through streams and backfill them with cement (as shown on some of the very few site-specific plans that have been made public)
  • Ask if they plan to rip off the sides of mountains, insert their pipes, and then attempt to hold those steep slopes in place with heavy-wire mesh fastened to the bedrock with 15-foot nails (as shown on some of the very few site-specific plans that have been made public)
  • Ask if Dominion has seen the photos of their survey stakes under water after the three-inch rain on April 15-16, and whether or not that calls into question the safety of their scheme.

And there are many other questions that you could ask!

MVP Accused of Illegal Tree Cutting

Notification from Preserve Floyd:

“This is a more comprehensive view of what happened yesterday [April 9, 2018] when the MVP’s tree-cutting crew, Northern, tried to cut trees on Poor Mountain. Deepest of appreciation for the courageous protectors on the ground in the snow facing the intimidation of chainsaws, security teams and police in order to give witness to this illegal and immoral act. The MVP LLC is in direct violation of their own argument to Federal Judge Elizabeth Dillon who awarded them immediate possession of property to cut trees based on testimony that the deadline for cutting was March 31 and they would suffer ‘irreparable harm’ if they were not allowed early entry. What does that mean? They do not have all the permits necessary to cut and the restrictions on cutting are fairly clear in terms of protections of endangered species and protected waterways. They were ‘allowed’ to cut BUT ONLY UNTIL MARCH 31. ….

As documented in the [above] video and observed by a certified legal observer, the notice of violation was clearly stated to the security official and the crew. They chose to proceed regardless. They are now officially engaging in illegal tree-cutting after being issued a warning based on legal evidence provided in a necessary and appropriate Citizen’s Notice of Violation and should be held accountable to the law.”

The ACP’s Fake Plans

Section of design sheet for ACP Milepost 85 area, one of only six areas in Virginia for which detailed site-specific pipeline construction plans have been obtained. Colors are added for clarity. Heavy wire mesh will be used to hold a 120% slope area in place above the stream. The indicated unnamed tributary drains to a native trout stream.  Higher resolution version here.

On April 9, 2018, Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition summarized the current status of Dominion’s construction plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Dominion Energy asserts that the ACP has received an unprecedented level of regulatory review, and it’s time to get on with it. Meanwhile it withholds its real construction plans while expecting broad waivers from environmental conditions and standards.

Dominion has persistently failed to make site-specific construction plans available to the regulatory agencies and the public. It has instead provided low-resolution plan sheets and generalized descriptions of environmental control practices. We now know that Dominion has plans that it has not shared with government decision makers, and we know it seeks exemption from critical regulatory requirements.

The curtain was pulled back in February 2018 when, after protracted delay, Dominion submitted site-specific plans to the Forest Service for six high-hazard locations in Virginia. Based on these plans we know that:

  • the steepest mountainsides will be held in place using heavy-wire mesh fastened to underlying bedrock with 8 to 15-foot or longer “nails”
  • excess spoil resulting from trench and workspace excavation may be spread on ridgelines or deposited adjacent the pipeline corridor
  • trenches will be dynamited through high-quality streams and backfilled with concrete

It also seems that Dominion is ignoring or perhaps intends to seek a wholesale variance from the State Water Control Board’s requirement that it reduce the width of the construction corridor from 125 feet to 75 feet within 50 feet of streams and wetlands to minimize the extent of riparian buffer disturbance. The most-recent available plans indicate that the width of construction disturbance at stream crossings remains 125-feet wide.

And it remains unclear if Dominion expects to receive a general variance allowing it to exceed the 500-foot open trench limit imposed by Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control regulations. Dominion has indicated that it will seek open-trench variances that will cover 99% of the pipeline corridor in western Virginia, including even the steepest mountainsides.

For more information see the April 9, 2018, post on the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition Web site:  Fake Plans for the ACP

2nd Tree Sit on Bent Mountain

Another tree sit has been launched in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline! MVP’s threats to remove Red, a landowner, from her own property have prompted a second tree-sit on her property….probably not what MVP expected as the outcome of their bullying.

Further information on the Bent Mountain tree sits from a Facebook post by Liz Arthur: “We have been watching, hiking, recording, and doing anything else we can to keep track of MVP crews and their contractors who consistently stray out of their Limits of Disturbance zones, block landowners from their own private roads, and do all they can get away with until confronted with the paperwork proving they are in violation (yes – I have physically seen all of these things happen). It is a tedious, exhausting task that the landowners and their neighbors have to carry out because there is seemingly NO oversight by any agency – local, state, federal – when it comes to what MVP is doing here on the ground. These people have battled in court for years over this, they have turned down offer after offer for access to their land (which, by the way, includes many pristine creeks that flow into the main water sources of all of Roanoke, endangered species of bats and birds, and incredibly steep and rugged terrain that is difficult to hike, much less pump gas through), and now they are forced to take time off from their jobs in order to ensure that MVP follows the orders and agreements that they have fought so hard to secure in court.

“Red, the Coffey’s neighbor, has resigned to sitting in her trees. The land she sits on has been in her family for 6 generations. The streams on their property (deemed to be cut straight through by MVP) provide well water for the community and flow into Roanoke’s main water sources. Her family turned down every offer MVP made them. However, the courts granted MVP limited access to her property (that is supposed to be subject to strict guidelines) and the pipeline will run right through it. This is the reality for many pieces of private property on Bent Mountain. Red’s sit shouldn’t be a problem for MVP, as the tree cutting was supposed to stop after the March 31st deadline put in place to protect local wildlife during reproductive and migratory seasons.

So – why should we care?

If it can happen here, it will continue to happen everywhere. I care because I don’t want to live in a country where my private property can be seized from me for the sole purpose of corporate profit. The proposed pipeline would deform terrain, destroy creek beds, devalue all surrounding land, and could potentially (as has happened over and over across the country) contaminate our water sources (yes, including the rest of Roanoke). I have been hiking around the proposed route. In many areas the angles and sharp turns are unbelievably extreme for a hiker, much less for millions of gallons of highly explosive gas barreling through some pipes. It’s hard to imagine that nothing would go disastrously wrong. All of this, just so a few people can make some money for a few years until this process is outdated.

“Please spread the word and help us hold MVP accountable. We obey the law, and so should they.”

Road Closures for ACP in GW National Forest Still Undecided

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance reports that public access to roads in the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) during construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is still an unresolved issue. At this writing, the U.S. Forest Service has not yet issued a notice regarding what roads might be closed to the public in the GWNF while the ACP is being built. Conversations ABRA recently has had with the GWNF indicate it is unclear when decisions on road closures will be made.

In contrast, the Supervisor of the Monongahela National Forest signed on March 7, 2018, a 120-day closure notice for certain roads in that Forest associated with ACP activity. And, a notice associated with the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest. which is under the authority of the same forest supervisors as the GWNF, was signed on March 30. It calls for a two-year closure of specified roads.