Category Archives: DEQ

MVP Construction Halted in Franklin County

 

Photo by Emily Beckner Guilliams

On May 20, 2019, the Roanoke Times reported Construction halted at Mountain Valley Pipeline work site following severe erosion in Franklin County, saying, “State regulators have put a stop to construction of part of the Mountain Valley Pipeline swamped by a rainstorm, saying work cannot continue until proper erosion control measures are established. Crews were using heavy equipment to cut trees and clear land along the natural gas pipeline’s right of way in Franklin County when heavy rains Thursday night and Friday morning swept away much of the soil they had unearthed.”

Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson Ann Regn said DEQ will investigate why check dams and other erosion control measures failed to prevent the flow of mud, sediment, and muddy water. Even before the spring rain and thunderstorms began, regulators had received calls from the public concerned that heavy equipment being used to remove trees and clear a 125-foot swath for pipeline construction was exposing the land to potential runoff problems. Regulators have already documented other problems with MVP sediment and runoff control on the pipeline route, including on Forest Service roads.

Predictably, the “best in class” erosion control measures failed.  Also predictably, MVP blamed all the problems on the weather.

Dominion’s Desperate Efforts at Deception


At a recent breakfast banquet for its retired employees that Dominion sponsored in Stoney Creek at Wintergreen, they asked everyone who attended to sign letters (see above and below) before they left. Dominion is resorting to this kind of propaganda in order to deceive our public officials and make them believe the general public is in support of this pipeline. Notice the letters do not state that the person signing is a retired employee.

Rain, Then Mud, Mud, and More Mud

Photo by Emily Beckner Guilliams

We’ve had a rainy week, as we sometimes do. Not a 100-year rain, not a 50-year rain, not even a 25-year rain. Just a normal rainy week, with normal thunderstorms. And, not surprisingly, when pipeline companies try do work on steep terrain, the slopes slide.

On May 18, 2018, Cahas Mountain Rd in Franklin County was covered in sediment after tree clearing by Mountain Valley Pipeline crews. Locals on the scene say the mud was 12” to 18” thick. The road was closed. The nearby creek was running red. The mud blocked traffic, rerouted school-buses and put the lives, land and water of Franklin County citizens at risk. Sediment-laden runoff filled local creeks to the point where cattle would not drink from them.

Environmental experts and concerned citizens have – since 2014 – been telling FERC, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Governor of Virginia that this kind of destruction will be the result of both Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction on our steep mountain slopes.

It is particularly distressing that MVP said, “Initial reviews indicate the controls were installed properly; however, the circumstances appear unusual and an ultimate cause is under investigation.” MVP seems to imply that an ordinary rainy week with ordinary thunderstorms constitutes “unusual circumstances.”

If you live near the MVP or ACP path please document, date, gps coordinate, and time stamp photos to send to DEQ. Please report flood damage (time-stamp and date your photos if possible!) to the Mountain Valley Watch (833-689-2824) or to Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (csi@abralliance.org, 877-GO2ABRA (877-462-2272)). You may also notify:

    •  Ralph Northam, Governor (804-786-2211)
    • John McCutcheon, DEQ Stormwater Compliance Manager (804-527-5117)
    • Ann Regn, DEQ spokeswoman (804-698-4442)
    • Jerome A. Brooks, Manager of the DEQ Office of Water Compliance (804-698-4403)
    • Matt Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources (804-786-0044)
    • We also suggest you contact your local government officials and insist that they report this to the officials responsible (such as the DEQ, VDOT, etc) for monitoring and compliance.

And here in Nelson County, Richard Averitt made this quick video to show the effects of the rain in Nelson County. We are facing an unprecedented risk to our communities. Please help. Look at the sediment problems from this one normal spring rain along the mountain valley pipeline route and imagine that same thing here in our communities and hundreds of communities throughout our state.

Send Comments to State Water Control Board Before May 30

Send your comments to the State Water Control Board before the May 30, 2018, deadline. Your comments are especially important in light of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit vacated earlier this week by the court. As deficiencies in federal permits come to light, the State Water Board’s review of Nationwide Permit 12 is crucial. A condition of the Nationwide Permit 12 is that developers hold a valid biological opinion and take statement from the Fish and Wildlife Service, a permit that is now invalid.

Where to send your comments? What to say?  Specific streams or wetlands to mention? See our May 4, 2018, post.

Northam “Either Ill-Informed – Or He Is Lying”

Writing in Blue Virginia on May 13, 2018, Stacy Lovelace comments on the statement regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), released by the Governor’s office on May 8 and claiming that “…the Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing proposed land disturbance and construction activities along every foot of the pipeline routes, including each proposed wetland and stream crossing.”

But, she says, “By claiming that the DEQ is reviewing each wetland and stream crossing, the Governor is either ill-informed — or he is lying.”

She points out that, “Last year, the DEQ made the decision to waive its right to do site-specific waterbody analysis, and decided instead to utilize the blanket Army Corp of Engineers Nationwide Permit 12. DEQ Water Permitting Division Director, Melanie Davenport, admitted at the April 12 State Water Control Board meeting that the DEQ had not done a site-specific waterbody crossing analysis because the agency did not have the resources. At the same meeting, the State Water Control Board voted to open a comment period addressing the fact that site-specific waterbody analysis had not been done. And if that isn’t enough to prove the untruthful nature of the Governor’s statement, documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request provide tangible proof.”

As an example, using emails and documents acquired via the FOIA request, she compiles a timeline of certain stormwater management plans for the MVP during the weeks in March leading up to their approval.

Prior to the timeline she constructs and thus not included in it, “a document between the DEQ and the contracted engineers acknowledges that some of the karst regions of the pipeline spreads had only received a ‘desktop review.’ In other words, MVP did not go to the areas of karst and perform field evaluations before submitting water quality protection plans for those same areas.

“The DEQ has clearly not performed complete reviews for every foot of the Mountain Valley Pipeline route, much less every waterbody crossing. The agency is using the same frightening methods with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In documents acquired via the same FOIA request, engineers’ comments indicate that (among other things), not all wetlands, stream crossings, surface waters, and karst features are included on plans. Again, these issues are occurring months after the DEQ advised to the State Water Control Board to grant the ACP’s 401 certification.”

Read the full Blue Virginia article here.

And send your comments on waterbody crossings and water quality standards to DEQ, urging them to require a stream-by-stream review – deadline is May 30, 2018. Instructions for commenting here.