Category Archives: Construction

Formal Complaint Against MVP Filed with FERC

Press release from Wild Virginia, June 21, 2019. Contact: David Sligh, ​david@wildvirginia.org​​ 434-964-7455

Citizens File Formal Complaint with FERC, Call on State Water Control Board to Intervene and Insist that MVP License Be Revoked or Suspended

On June 21, 2019, Wild Virginia, partner groups, and individuals filed a formal complaint against Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Complaint is based on MVP’s frequent and repeated violations of state and federal requirements, throughout work on the project.

“We are asking that FERC revoke or suspend the Certificate it issued to MVP,” said David Sligh of Wild Virginia. Through this formal process, parties can also intervene and the complainants are calling on the State Water Control Board to do so and insist that FERC do what its members decided they lack the authority to do -stop the project and defend Virginians and our resources. The Board meets next week, on June 27 and the parties want them to act on this issue at that time.

The FERC approval was based on a finding that MVP was able and willing to meet all requirements, protect the environment, and the people affected. “MVP has shown, through hundreds of blatant violations that is neither able nor willing to obey the law,” Sligh said.

The complaint is joined by the Indian Creek Watershed Association, Preserve Craig, Inc., Betty Werner, and Neal Laferriere. Werner and Laferriere are landowners who have reported ongoing problems and the locally-based groups have seen all of their warnings about the damages MVP would cause come true.

When the Commission issued the Certificate allowing MVP to proceed, it said it “expected strict compliance . .. with any state and federal mandated conditions.” The citizens joining this complaint are asking the Commissioners at FERC to prove that they meant what they said.

Two categories of violations are cited in the complaint. First, is the continued construction on MVP despite the fact that federal licenses to cross waterbodies and the National Forest were rejected by a federal court. Second,MVP has violated a broad range of legal requirements meant to protect the environment, people, and property along its path.

Citizens have monitored the project from the start and shown that MVP doesn’t bother to install pollution controls until forced to do so and that those used are sometimes so poorly designed and maintained that they won’t work even when built according to plans. Findings of regulators in both West Virginia and Virginia of hundreds of violations show that MVP is not serious about protections but is focused solely on ramming this project through with little regard for anyone else’s interests. Even FERC inspectors have document many blatant violations – often with the same problems occurring time and again.

“What we have is regulators watching our waters get trashed and then trying to act. By the time that happens though it may be too late for some of our most valuable resources,” Sligh said.

Roanoke Times press coverage is here.

Core Samples and Survey Flags


Just a heads up to citizens and visitors of Nelson County: in recent days F & R workers have been drilling “core samples” and leaving behind some new survey flags at various locations where ACP proposes to cross Nelson’s roads. Rte 29, Rte 151 and Beech Grove Road are among the locations where citizen monitors have reported this activity, and we expect ACP will probably do this at many, if not all, of the proposed road crossings in the coming days. Please note that we are aware of this activity and are keeping a watchful eye. This is ACP doing further geotechnical studies, not ACP starting to do the actual drilling/construction under our roads.

If you see something noteworthy or something that concerns you, please alert Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program by calling 877-Go2ABRA, by emailing CSI@abralliance.org.

Feds Issue Bulletin Warning of Pipeline Dangers in Mountains


From ABRA Update #228 for May 2, 2019

On May 2, 2019, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued an advisory bulletin “to remind owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines of the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by earth movement from both landslides and subsidence in variable, steep, and rugged terrain and for varied geological conditions.” The bulletin noted that “these conditions can pose a threat to the integrity of pipeline facilities if those threats are not identified and mitigated. PHMSA is aware of recent earth movement and other geological-related incidents/accidents and safety-related conditions throughout the county, particularly in the eastern portion of the United States.” The bulletin is available here.

The PHMSA bulletin is being issued at a time when significant slope failures have been reported for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in the area of West Virginia where construction was taking place until late last year when it ceased. The photo above, taken recently by the Pipeline Air Force of ABRA’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), shows the degree to which slopes in a hilly area have failed in an area that has been cleared along the ACP right-a-way. The fallen trees are the result of the slope failure.

ABRA is currently conducting a study on landslides and pipelines, which will be issued soon. Over a dozen such incidents have already been detected by the ABRA/CSI program along the route in lower elevations of West Virginia.

Pipeline industry representatives say they already have detailed, established methods to avoid damage to their lines from landslides and other movement. Of course they do. Explain again MVP last summer, landslides occurring now on ACP, recent explosions, etc.?

What Dominion Calls ‘Best in Class’


From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #227:

For the past five years, since announcing plans to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), Dominion Energy has touted that its construction of the project would employ “best in class” techniques to prevent sediment runoff from endangering streams and rivers. The photo above was taken on April 20 by ABRA’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative team along Elk Lick Road in Lewis County, WV, near Milepost 4 of the ACP. It shows the so-called “best in class” techniques that Dominion’s contractors are using. The barricade that is pictured is comprised of metal piping holding up stacked lumber. It appears that the contractor ran short of lumber.

The photo was taken in dry weather. There are two nearby streams that would be adversely impacted by sediment runoff caused by an even modest rainfall. A further observation: the terrain in this area of the ACP route is hilly, but not mountainous. One can only imagine how ineffective such “best in class” sediment control techniques would be in the steeper mountains further along the route in Pocahontas and Randolph Counties (WV) and Highland, Bath, Augusta and Nelson Counties (VA).

Action Alert: Appalachian Trail


Wild Virginia has issued the following action alert on Dominion’s efforts to build the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline across the Appalachian Trail. Friends of Nelson urges our readers to contact their Senators and Representatives.

Alert:

The proposed route for Dominion’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been a mess from the beginning. It carves through family farms, steep mountain ridges, and public water supplies, and it is slated to cross the Appalachian Trail on U.S. Forest Service land, a move that federal judges say is not legal. Rather than reconsider their poorly-planned project, Dominion is asking the U.S. Congress to change laws to make way for its unneeded gas pipeline.

We are calling on you to contact your senators and representative in Congress today and ask them to oppose legislation that makes way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  (Don’t know your senators or representative? Find out here.)

Background:
Dominion is in trouble. It’s been five years since the company announced that it would build a high-pressure gas pipeline from West Virginia, across the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, into North Carolina. Today, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is broadly unpopular, 50 percent over budget (now a shocking $7.5+ billion), and two years behind schedule.

In December 2018, a federal court in Richmond said that Dominion’s plan to cross the Appalachian Trail was not legal, and it overturned the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the crossing.  Dominion has already tried to sneak a bill through Congress to change the law and allow our precious federal resources to be harmed. The company won’t stop in its efforts to get senators and representatives to change the law and undo the court’s ruling.

We will oppose Dominion’s efforts and call on you to do the same – NOW!

The Appalachian Trail crossing is one of seven permits that federal courts have overturned or put on hold, all because of Dominion’s careless route selection and rushed permitting. And it’s increasingly clear that the pipeline is not needed to meet electricity and gas demand. Worse, electricity customers in Virginia and North Carolina would be on the hook to pay for the costly new pipeline.

Tell your senators and your representative in Congress that you oppose legislation that would change the rules to make way for Dominion’s unneeded and destructive pipeline.

Thank you for taking action to protect the mountain streams, family farms, private property, water supplies, and Appalachian Trail that we all cherish.

Sincerely,

David Sligh 
Wild Virginia
Conservation Director

You Can’t Just “smooth it back over”

So often we hear pipeline proponents say that after it is built you won’t know it is there. As Robert Pollok says, “So many people think that once they’re done, [and] smooth it back over, that you can just pop it up and plant something. And that just doesn’t happen that way.”

In the April 7, 2019, article in GoDanRiver.com, Pittsylvania County farmer sheds light on how pipeline project will affect land for years to come, Pollok explains how pipeline construction would affect his small-grain seed production operation. Mountain Valley Pipeline’s proposed Southgate extension project would run through his land and through two different properties he leases. During construction he would be unable to get farm equipment across MVP’s work zone to reach both a part of his own property and one of his leased properties which is only accessible through the part of his land that would be inaccessible. He estimates that at least 55 acres of crop land could be inaccessible during construction spanning two growing seasons.

“Pollok said he’s concerned about whether he’ll be able to grow enough to satisfy the customer base the farm has built up over 30-plus years. He’s also concerned that he will not have the option of expanding during that time. …. As a farmer in the highly-regulated certified seed production industry, Pollok’s products undergo several stages of scrutiny, from field inspections prior to harvest by state agents to sending his yield to the state to undergo a series of quality tests. ‘If it does not meet the criteria for certified seed at that point, even before I harvest it, it’s rejected for being able to be kept for seed, and it cannot be sold for seed,’ said Pollok. The seed must be free of any contamination from weeds and disease as well as be genetically pure, otherwise it’s prohibited from sale of any kind. …. Therefore, he keeps his fields carefully controlled. His equipment is only used on his own fields so as not to potentially transfer weeds from another farmer’s field to his.”

Beyond inhibiting his ability to farm parts of his land during the proposed construction, Pollok says it will take years to reverse the harm to the land caused by construction in the temporary workspaces. In 1990 his family acquired the section of land where Southgate wants to build, and “it took them more than a decade to fix the very sections damaged by the construction of the Transco pipeline in 1954. ‘It still had remnants of uneven ground and unproductive soil,’ said Pollok. ‘It was close to the early 2000s before we had it where you couldn’t say, “Oh, this was where the pipeline was,”‘ he said. ‘The crops wouldn’t be lagging in yield quality because of where that construction took place decades before.'”

And every time crews come to do work or make repairs to the pipeline, they damage the land again. “Driving up his driveway to his house, Pollok pointed out the vehicle’s window to the spot where the crews had worked a few years ago. Compared to the ground around it, grass grew more sparsely with patches of dirt clearly visible. Thick grass lined the perimeter of the former work zone. ‘Stuff still doesn’t grow right, and that was four years ago,’ he said.”

Pollok thinks it would take at least five years after construction to heal the land. During construction and during the healing time thereafter, his yield – and therefore his livelihood – would be severely reduced, and he wonders if he would ever regain the lost business. “So many people think that once they’re done, [and] smooth it back over, that you can just pop it up and plant something. And that just doesn’t happen that way.”

Read the full article here.