Category Archives: Construction

More Than 13,000 Public Comments

On June 18, 2018, the Roanoke Times reported that 2 Pipeline Projects Draw More than 13,000 Public Comments. The comments were submitted to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) to give input on how the Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipelines would impact Virginia’s water bodies. The SWCB received approximately 7,100 emails on the ACP and 2,600 emails on the MVP. Another 3,500 letters, reports, and other paper records were submitted, but as of the article’s press time it was unclear how many were related to each pipeline.

Ann Regn, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said that comments must be reviewed by DEQ staff members in order to present the information to the SWCB. The SWCB is currently scheduled to meet on August 21, 2018, but there are requests for it to meet sooner, particularly as the MVP has already caused environmental damage and even more is expected as construction continues. Many individuals and organizations are calling for a halt to all construction on both the ACP and the MVP while the over 13,000 comments are carefully considered by the SWCB.  Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, held a news conference on June 18 to push for a state-ordered stop to construction while damage is occurring.

The Truth Is in the Proof

The Truth Is in the Proof
: excellent new video focusing on the Limpert property in Highland County.

What if anything can stop the construction of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines? The level of frustration is growing as more people wake up to the reality that the pipelines pose significant danger to fragile ecosystems along their paths. Concerned citizens, landowners, lawmakers, environmentalists and many government officials continue to protest.  Join them!

State Legislators File Comments with SWCB

Press release from Delegate Mark Keam’s office, June 15, 2018:

Virginia State Legislators File Comments Urging State Water Control Board to Conduct Stream-By-Stream Analysis of Methane Gas Pipelines’ Impacts on Water Quality

RICHMOND – On Friday, June 15, 2018, sixteen members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates jointly filed comments with the State Water Control Board in the pending regulatory proceeding on the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposals.

In an unprecedented move, the group representing more than ten percent of the 140 combined members of Virginia’s state legislature expressed “serious concerns about how these projects would have severe negative impacts on Virginia’s water resources.”

These legislators believe that the Commonwealth should fully utilize the legal authority it has under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to protect the water quality in Virginia, rather than simply rely upon the Nationwide Permit 12 issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Nationwide Permit 12 are generally used by the federal government to handle routine projects that have only minimal effects on water quality.

“Some supporters of pipelines assert that these projects are already approved by the federal government, and so our state has no role,” stated Delegate Mark Keam who helped draft the public comments. “But the facts and the law are clear – the Commonwealth is responsible for protecting Virginia waters, not some bureaucrats in Washington who have never even visited the hundreds of rivers and streams that these pipelines will cross.”

Keam and other legislators urge the Water Board and the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct stream-by-stream analyses of all proposed crossings in Virginia and to require all necessary standards to protect Virginia’s water uses from dangers of the pipelines, including aquatic life, recreation, wildlife, and drinking water supplies.

Read the legislators’ letter to the State Water Control Board here.

Public Hearing: Water from Lake Monocan for ACP

On Thursday June 21, 2018, at 2pm Nelson County Service Authority will hold a public hearing on the proposed water rates in the proposed contract between the Service Authority and Dominion. The contract would allow the Service Authority to sell 40,000 gallons per day of Wintergreen’s Lake Monocan water to Dominion to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, specifically for the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under the Blue Ridge Parkway at Reeds Gap. That’s 29 million gallons of water Dominion wants to buy over the next 2 years to build ACP and use for drilling fluid.

According to the May 23, 2018, article in the Nelson County Times reporting on the Service Authority’s meeting on May 17, which yielded no final decisions on a contract to provide water to the ACP for construction, the board could vote on the contract following the public hearing. A public hearing is required to set the special rates for ACP. The ACP engineer attending the May 17 meeting said the water would be used for HDD, but could be used for other aspects of construction, and the water used as part of the HDD drilling fluid will be “hauled off.” [How? where? what will be done to purify it?]

Below is a map showing Lake Monocan, the proposed source of water for Dominion’s pipeline drilling fluid, and the surrounding area.

Calls for State Water Control Board to Meet

Citizen observers for the Mountain Valley Watch program have documented and reported as many as 20 erosion control violations to the Department of Environmental Quality since mid-April 2018. Yet DEQ has not issued any violation notices or warnings to the contractor or MVP LLC. The number and severity of problems should require an immediate investigation into the reported violations, yet DEQ officials denied the existence of violations and problems during a recent court hearing in Roanoke. Virginia residents are justifiably concerned that DEQ is not fulfilling its responsibility to correct and enforce serious violations of state laws.

A growing number of both individuals and groups are urging the State Water Control Board to immediately hold a meeting to determine the adequacy of the Army Corps’ Nationwide Permit 12 to protect the Blue Ridge region’s rivers, streams, and drinking water. The Board is not currently scheduled to meet until August 21 to consider the adequacy of the federal permit, but in light of the ongoing problems and the daily, direct harm to state waters from pipeline construction activities, a decision on the permit cannot wait until late August.

There will be a rally with speakers to call for a prompt SWCB meeting on Monday, June 18, 2018 at 2:00 pm, Wasena Park, Roanoke, VA (near Vic Thomas Greenway bridge by the Roanoke River).

Speakers include:

  • Delegate Sam Rasoul
  • Russell Chisholm, Preserve Giles
  • Cynthia Munley Preserve Salem
  • Dr. Tina Smusz, MD, MPH, health educator
  • Mary Beth Coffey, landowner
  • Jason Shelton, Mountain Valley Watch

WPOA Asks DEQ to Intervene

Wintergreen Property Owners Association filed comments with DEQ on June 12, 2018 asking DEQ not to accept the insufficient review the Army Corps of Engineers deemed acceptable as part of Nationwide Permit 12. Their comments relate specifically to VA AP-10237 (MP 158.7) and VA AP-10237 (MP 158.9} near the sole entrance/exit to Wintergreen. They state, “Wintergreen has already shared abundant information supporting the need for careful review, given the unique environmental and public safety challenges present where the ACP passes the only entrance and exit of our community. As required, this filing includes an analysis of the inadequacies of NWP 12 for this project and provides additional new information showing current site conditions, and clear evidence of pressurized ground water within the ACP route. This new evidence reinforces the need for DEQ to provide additional scrutiny of the environmental and public safety impacts of the ACP project near milepost (MP) 158.7, and for DEQ to not accept the previous insufficient review the Corps deems acceptable as part of NWP 12.”

The WPOA filing discusses debris flow and rockslides, ground water, soil and geologic concerns, and drilling under Reeds Gap, and includes detailed diagrams and LIDAR mapping. Wintergreen engineers and geologists use underground radar to show DEQ and FERC that ACP’s pipeline is not safe to build on on unstable land, fault lines, and underground aquifers. One result — water gushing from ACP soil borings.

The filing says, “In the interest of getting this project approved, the ACP has not carefully studied the geologic conditions present in and around MP 158. Had the ACP presented all of the evidence to FERC and DEQ at the time of permitting, it would have triggered additional review/discussion about; the steep slopes, the unstable colluvial material, the large volume of groundwater present, the potential for debris avalanches, catastrophic damage to the headwaters of the Rockfish River, and the public safety concerns over the entrapment of an entire community. None of the evidence presented to date suggests there has been careful review of the existing conditions and the potential problems this project may cause to Virginia Water. As part of the 401 certification, the Commonwealth should force transparency of the engineering plans related to this project, and in doing, will greatly reduce the negative, and possibly catastrophic, consequences that could result from a lack of oversight.”

In conclusion, the filing notes, “As this project gets underway, more and more evidence is coming to light that, the ‘best practices’ and ‘best in class’ approach to pipeline construction is inadequate. Environmental disasters recently occurred on a Dominion project near Spartanburg SC and on the Mountain Valley Pipeline project in Franklin County VA. The news coverage of contaminated spring fed waters in Montgomery County VA and the pipeline explosion last week in Marshall County WV, should give additional cause for serious concern. The pipeline that exploded in Marshall County was put into service in January of this year and was described as ‘best in class’ for safety, reliability, and efficiency by the company who built and is currently operating this brand-new pipeline. It is important to note that Dominion Energy regularly uses the phrase ‘best in class’ to describe the construction, operation, and safety of the ACP. With failures mounting on similar projects, DEQ should recognize the need to scrutinize the engineering and construction plans more carefully and make sure the ACP is in fact constructed in a way that protects the citizens of Virginia and the water we depend on.”

Read the full WPOA filing here, with copies of their previous relevant filings as attachments.

Blue Ridge Life news coverage includes photographs, discussion with Jay Roberts, Executive Director of WPOA, and a brief video of water pushing out around a locked cap on a test well within a few hundred feet of the entry-exit of Wintergreen Resort.  The story was also covered in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on 6-17-18 (for digital subscribers only) and in the Daily Progress on 6-18-18.