Category Archives: HDD

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.

Just Compensation from ACP for Wintergreen Property Owners


As a Wintergreen property owner, you may be entitled by law to receive “just compensation” for any decrease in your Wintergreen property value caused by Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

Dominion plans to take a 4+ acre easement from the Wintergreen common area near the front gate to construct a 42-inch wide natural gas pipeline. With FERC approval, Dominion can condemn the property for the ACP project.

Dominion will use more than 4 acres of Wintergreen common area and other private property rights to drill a 4,000-foot tunnel under the mountain that supports the Blue Ridge Parkway. The drilling operation will be performed 24/7 for up to 18 months on Wintergreen common area property immediately in front of the Mountain Resort’s only entrance and exit. Construction will require the removal of thousands of trees and will further require importing 6 million gallons of water from the James River for drilling. From the drilling site in front of the Wintergreen gatehouse, the pipeline would continue up Piney Mountain, also Wintergreen property, cross through Fortune’s Point next to Fortune’s Ridge, then continue east to Nellysford and beyond. Dominion plans to utilize Wintergreen roads for access and construction purposes.

By taking Wintergreen common area owned by the Wintergreen Property Owners Association (WPOA), the ACP will take and damage each owner’s easement of use and enjoyment in those same common areas during and after construction, caused by construction and operation of a natural gas pipeline, reduction in WPOA and resort services, marketplace stigma for safety concerns and other reasons that cause a loss in property values. This issue applies to all WPOA members. Each member is entitled to “damages,” which are calculated individually as the unique decrease in value to each owner’s property rights affected by the pipeline project. Local realtors have already seen a drop of 10 percent or more in Wintergreen property values since the pipeline was announced. What does this decline mean for your property? Will it get worse?

If you are a Wintergreen property owner, more information is here.
http://www.friendsofwintergreen.com/lawsuit/

Drilling Mud Is Apparently Difficult to Control

Sunoco is currently building the Mariner East 2 pipeline through Chester County PA. On July 7, 2017, NPR reported that “Around a dozen Chester County households experienced cloudy water or loss of supply from their private wells this week, forcing some families from their homes near a location where Sunoco Pipeline is conducting horizontal directional drilling about 150 feet below ground for the construction of its Mariner East 2 pipeline.” Some families are now staying at local hotels.

The NPR report continues, “Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said the company is investigating the cause of the water problems in West Whiteland Township, which were first reported to the Township on Monday. The company is now a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners. The company has tested 11 private water wells, and was due to test another nine on Friday to determine whether its horizontal directional drilling (HDD) caused the water problems, Shields said. Although test results had not been given to West Whiteland Township officials by late morning, Shields indicated that HDD was the cause.”

Note that EDP is the company that spilled more than 2 million gallons of drilling fluid in Ohio, causing FERC to curtail work on the Rover pipeline in northern Ohio (see our story on May 11, 2017).

Later in the day on July 7, the Philadelphia Inquirer posted an update, Water-contamination complaints force Sunoco to suspend Chesco pipeline construction. “Sunoco Pipeline LP has suspended installation of its contentious Mariner East 2 underground pipeline near Exton after about a dozen Chester County households complained that the water from their private wells was interrupted or had become cloudy…. ‘Drilling has been suspended as we await test results, which will help determine whether the well problems are related to drilling and, if so, help us resolve the issues,’ Shields said…. Local officials suspect that nontoxic bentonite clay used as a lubricant during the horizontal-drilling process may have migrated into private wells. Bentonite drilling mud is the same material used in cat litter.”

Horizontal directional drilling, using the same bentonite drilling mud, is the process Dominion proposes for drilling under the Blue Ridge at Reed’s Gap.

FERC Blocks Rover Pipeline after Spills During HDD


On May 10, 2017, the Washington Post reported that FERC has curtailed work on the Rover pipeline in northern Ohio after Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) reported 18 leaks and the spilling of more than 2 million gallons of drilling fluid. No new horizontal directional drilling (HDD) may begin in 8 areas where drilling was planned, and the company was told to “double the number of environmental inspectors and to preserve documents the commission wants to examine as it investigates the spills.” ETP maintains that the spills, which they say are of non-toxic drilling mud, had been predicted in their permit application, but FERC said its staff has “serious concerns” regarding the magnitude of the largest spill, “its environmental impacts, the lack of clarity regarding the underlying reasons for its occurrence, and the possibility of future problems,” and that the spill was “several orders of magnitude greater than other documented inadvertent returns for the project.”

Drilling mud a foot or two deep is visible in a video of the wetlands area provided by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Horizontal directional drilling is the process Dominion proposes for drilling under the Blue Ridge at Reed’s Gap.

HDD: A Limited Review by a Company Working for Dominion

[Photo by John Claman:  Piney Mountain,Three Ridges, Reed’s Gap]

On April 17, 2017, the US Forest Service submitted a supplement to a filing made on April 6, 2017, which transmitted Forest Service approval of the primary and contingency proposals for the horizontal direct drilling (HDD) drilling under Reeds Gap and the Appalachian Trail near the sole entrance/exit for Wintergreen. The supplement provides the documents the Forest Service received from GAI, the 3rd-party contractor who conducted the review.

The GAI review should have included – but didn’t – the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) report, A High Risk Proposal: Drilling Through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Instead of being comprehensive, GAI’s review is limited, stating only, “Based on our review of the geotechnical and geological data provided for the proposed HDD, GAI believes an HDD in this location is feasible.”

DPMC’s Rick Webb says there is, “No real discussion or analysis of the issues or even reference to most of the issues – just an opinion – no reference to the lack of geophysical info for most of the drill-path or the extreme conditions.” The DPMC report on drilling through the mountain includes detailed information on how the HDD could fail, which GAI seems to have ignored, and GAI did not address at all the extreme environmental footprint of the project.

Webb continues, “I expressed concern about an obvious conflict of interest to the Forest Service when I heard that GAI was the reviewer. GAI works for Dominion on the ACP. See: https://gaiconsultants.com/project/atlantic-coast-pipeline-project/

Webb adds, “GAI reps were at the open houses during the EIS scoping period – assuring us of the high-environmental standards and technical capacity of Dominion and the pipeline industry. GAI was also the company that prepared the Erosion and Sediment Control Plans for the recent Stonewall Gathering Pipeline in WV (notable for poor behavior with respect to implementation of the ESC plans on the ground; see http://pipelineupdate.org/2015/08/28/stream-zero/; also in the path of the ACP).”

Note added on April 21, 2017DeSmog reported on April 20, 2017, that after DeSmog’s story linking GAI to Dominion, GAI removed mention of its link to Dominion from its Web page.

Forest Service Satisfied with Feasibility of Reed’s Gap HDD

The April 6, 2017, Richmond-Times Dispatch article reporting on DEQ’s announcement that it will require individual water quality certifications also reported that “the U.S. Forest Service said it is satisfied with the feasibility of [Dominion’s] proposal to drill through the Blue Ridge Mountain to avoid the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway between Augusta and Nelson counties.” Further, “Clyde Thompson, Forest Service supervisor in the Monongahela in West Virginia, told federal regulators this week that the agency has concluded that the use of horizontal directional drilling and a contingency plan for a more conventional drilling method both would be ‘feasible at the proposed location.’ ”

Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article here (scroll down to the second half of the article).