Category Archives: Construction

Hiring Impact Called Short Term

A November 18, 2017, article in the Buckhannon WV Record Delta is titled “Pipeline starting April 1.” It begins, “Construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is expected to begin on April 1, 2018, and that is not an April Fool’s joke. Mike Cozad, a third-party contractor for ACP, came to the Upshur County Commission’s weekly meeting Thursday to provide commissioners with a timeline and update on the building of the 42-inch, 600-mile natural gas pipeline that will extend from Harrison County, West Virginia to Robeson County, North Carolina.”

The article notes that out-of-state people working for the ACP or it’s contractors are already arriving, as the vanguard of the expected influx in March 2018. “In the latter part of March, you’ll see a whole lot of people coming in here and getting set up with the anticipated start date (of construction) 1 April 2018. Prior to that, we will be dropping trees, but that’s a much smaller impact – they’re just going out, felling the trees and moving on. …. Each construction spread will be 400 to 600 people, depending on the contractor.”

Also at the County Commissioner’s weekly meeting was April Pierson-Keating, a member of Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance. She pointed out “a few things that might counter the rosy picture that Dominion (ACP) is painting of this project. There are numerous permits that this pipeline still needs. The certification from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is being challenged by several community groups and then lawyer groups that are helping them take the case.”

She reminded the Commissioners (and Mr. Cozad) that North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality has not yet issued Section 401 Water Quality Certification to ACP, and that ACP/Dominion contractors won’t necessarily hire Upshur County workers, but rather, employees from other counties in West Virginia or elsewhere. And, she said, “We believe that the tax money that is going to be coming in and the few jobs that are going to be going to West Virginians are offset by lower property values, damage to the water and long-term damage to our economy in terms of tourism and other things. I’m not asking you to do anything today. I’m just trying to provide a counter and a balance to the happy-dappy, rosy picture and also to let you know that there are a lot of permits outstanding, there are hearings and trials coming up, so the timeline they expect may be pushed back.”

Mr. Cozad, the contractor for the ACP, actually agreed that most benefits would be short term, saying, “The bigger impact is going to be short term, of course, while construction is going on. There will still be some long-term jobs, but she’s correct that the number’s probably not that much. They are intending to hire as many local people as possible. They may come from other counties, but they are, in my mind, local people.”

Few local jobs, especially few long-term jobs – just as we’ve been saying here in Virginia!

Pipelines and Farmers Battle Over Lifetime Loss

An article in the November 14, 2017 AgWeb (Farm Journal Media), Pipelines and Farmers Battle Over Lifetime Loss, says, “Pipelines and agriculture are a contentious pair, with a growing number of farmers raising concerns over soil health, drainage issues, and responses from oil and gas companies.”

Three farmers in Illinois, Georgia, and Iowa talk at length about their personal experiences with three different pipelines built across their land and the problems they caused.

“‘Pipelines promise the world and money. Sure, I love energy efficiency, but I’m a farmer and I don’t want this pipeline headache on my property. If you can keep a pipeline from coming through your property, then do it,’ Richter says. ‘If they need to get through your land, they’ll tickle your ear. But once the line is installed, they don’t come back to the table to fix problems. Even if you’ve got it in writing, you’ll still have to go to the legal system for enforcement and spend thousands of dollars,’ Dowdy adds. ‘The only leverage you’ve got is prior to the pipeline.’ ‘You’ve got to get advice from somebody with soil experience, not dirt experience. Don’t let the company put time limits on corrective action and don’t sign off on anything,’ Kelley concludes. ‘Remember, farmers look down and see soil, but the pipeline company just sees dirt.'”

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.

Press Release: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Would Create 4500 Acre Downzone Area in Nelson

Friends of Nelson Press Release, October 23, 2017
Contact Marilyn Shifflett (434-826-0628) or Joyce Burton (434-361-2328)

In a letter today addressed to the Nelson County Board of Supervisors, Friends of Nelson has asked that they consider potential zoning and economic impacts from the possible construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

This week it has been revealed that that there is an “industry [effort] to create a ‘consultation planning zone’ which extends 660 feet from the center of any high pressure natural gas pipeline.” The purpose of the zone or corridor is to “restrict development” within those parameters for the “lifetime of the pipeline.  (See http://www.wilsontimes.com/stories/county-voices-concern-over-pipeline,100389)

Both the industry and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have recommended that county governments restrict development through actions by county governing bodies.

This would create a 4500-acre area that would be highly restrictive of development: an area a quarter of a mile wide, stretching for over 23 miles and bisecting Nelson County from Reeds Gap to the James River.

It was noted this week that county commissioners in Wilson County (NC) have formally “expressed reservations on several issues related to the pipeline project and its officials Tuesday, including a “development dead zone” in Wilson County, full and complete disclosures and transparency in project planners’ dealings with property owners and the pipeline’s quality of construction and safety.”(ibid.)

“Having read most of the Pipeline Informed Planning Alliance (PIPA) Guidelines laid out by PHMSA, it’s clear that the expectation is that landowners along these corridors–approximately 3 and one half football fields in width, on either side of the pipeline–would be obligated to notify the pipeline owner of any land-disturbing activities in these corridors,” said Marilyn Shifflett of Friends of Nelson, who is co-author of the letter. “Owners considering construction or logging on ‘corridor properties’ would need to work with the ACP to ensure the safety and integrity of the pipeline.”

“In addition, developers would need to consider evacuation routes for residential developments when planning private roads. Localities failing to enact ordinances that take these guidelines into account face possible safety and liability concerns,” Ms. Shifflett continued.

A resolution passed by Wilson County commissioners states that ACP officials (have) “failed to inform property owners or local government” of their liabilities associated with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The resolution further noted that property owners within the dead zone have not been offered compensation for restrictions placed on their property outside of the construction and permanent easements. They say these types of development restrictions will severely and negatively affect the value of land and property owned by county residents.

The potential environmental and economic impacts to Nelson County have been well-documented by a 2016 economic study, commissioned by Friends of Nelson, which estimates total economic losses to Nelson County of up to $24.5 million dollars per year, with additional one-time costs of up to $41 million.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) makes no secret of the fact that “safety” is not among their concerns when approving pipeline permits and that this issue falls under the purview of local governments and PHMSA. Hence, siting the pipelines has little to do with hazard mitigation. Yet PHMSA guidance states that “placing people in proximity to existing transmission pipelines can increase their risks resulting from the unintentional release of products transported through the pipelines. Such releases can result from a variety of causes and may result in injuries or fatalities as well as property and environmental damage… land development in proximity to pipelines can increase such risk.”

PMHSA advises localities to place ”additional development regulations, standards or guidelines to ensure safety” on all property within 660’ of any natural gas pipeline.    They also state that the size of this Consultation Planning Zone should be adjusted depending on the operating pressure, pipe diameter and site-specific topography.  

“Given that 660’ is only 60% of the 1100’ Potential Impact Radius (a/k/a the Blast Zone) for the 1440 psi, 42” pipeline ACP proposes to ram through Virginia, it seems to me that a prudent Consultation and Planning Zone in Nelson might actually be significantly larger than the basic 660’ feet,” said Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson in the letter.  “Of course, that would mean that even more landowners will be negatively impacted if this behemoth is built — not only by the dangers of living next to a potentially explosive pipeline, but also by what could amount to a de facto downzoning of their properties.”

“The Pipeline Informed Planning Alliance was born from a push from the industry, and while careful not to “regulate” local boards and commissions, they do imply that liability at every step does not rest with the owners or users of the pipeline,” the letter concludes.

“The creation of planning zones and consultation zones that recommend that private property owners consult with pipeline operators whenever land disturbing activities are performed, will no doubt result in a reminder from the operator that if the pipeline is damaged or compromised, liability will rest with said landowner. They are clear that creation of these zones and ordinances to support the guidelines are not required. However, ignoring the recommendations puts liability squarely on the locality.”

Wilson County NC Voices Concern Over “Development Dead Zone”

The October 17, 2017 Wilson Times reports that “”Wilson County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling for Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials to be more transparent in their dealings with property owners and local government when it comes to development and safety issues. Commissioners expressed reservations on several issues related to the pipeline project and its officials Tuesday, including a ‘development dead zone’ in Wilson County, full and complete disclosures and transparency in project planners’ dealings with property owners and the pipeline’s quality of construction and safety.

“Commissioner say ACP officials failed to inform property owners or local government that there is an ‘industry [effort] to create a “consultation planning zone” which extends 660 feet from the center of any high pressure natural gas pipeline,’ according to the resolution. The purpose of the zone or corridor is to ‘restrict development’ within those parameters for the ‘lifetime of the pipeline,’ the resolution states.

“Property owners within that zone have not been offered compensation for restrictions placed on their property outside of the construction and permanent easements, commissioners said. They say these types of development restrictions will severely affect the value of land and property owned by county residents. That planning zone, according to the resolution, would create a ‘development dead zone’ 1,300 feet wide by 12 miles long running through the heart of western Wilson County. And that would lower property values and ‘adversely affect’ both residents and Wilson County as a whole.”

Read the full article here.