Category Archives: Natural Resources

Wintergreen Test Drill Site Capped and Filled


Friends of Wintergreen reports that on June 12, 2018, the day Wintergreen Property Owners Association submitted its comments to DEQ about the water gushing up from Dominion’s test drill site, the company hurried over and removed the evidence by capping the geyser and filling in the hole with grout. For the record, this is the photo of the gushing water WPOA filed with their comments.

Statement from Roanoke Friends Meeting

The Peace and Social Justice Committee of the Roanoke Friends Meeting adopted this statement May 20, 2018. It was published in the Roanoke Times on June 5, 2018.

Bearing witness to our testimonies of stewardship of the Earth and social justice, we, as Friends (Quakers), are compelled to speak out against two natural gas pipelines proposed in Virginia, and all pipelines transporting gas extracted by hydraulic fracking. Fracking is a process documented to contaminate air and water with toxic chemicals, accelerating climate change and encouraging our dependence on fossil fuels.

The 42-inch diameter Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) would transport natural gas at high pressure for hundreds of miles, traversing steep slopes, cutting through mountains, valleys and national forests. As proposed, the MVP and ACP would cross over streams and rivers in more than 1,100 places, including several Tier 3 designated streams (waters of exceptional quality). Their destructive routes would impact one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world.

These pipelines bear tremendous risks to the inhabitants and environment of areas affected by them.

The mountains surrounding the Roanoke Valley form an important watershed supplying the entire region with high quality water. The very real likelihood of contamination and damage to these watersheds during Mountain Valley Pipeline’s construction threatens the water supply of thousands of people in the valley and beyond.

Water in other regions would also be affected. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would negatively affect the James and Potomac Rivers, which including their tributaries, serve over one-third of the state.

Pipelines are also a threat to social justice as they are frequently routed through rural and impoverished areas where people lack power to resist. In Buckingham County, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline plans to place the largest compressor station in the state in a historic African-American community that was founded after the Civil War by freed men and women.

The result would be devastation of this community as well as other communities and residents that find themselves in the crosshairs of these pipelines. Eminent domain is being misused by a private corporation not for public good but for profit at the expense of citizens’ property rights.

An ever-growing number of people have been resisting these pipelines for almost four years by reasoned, measured, and peaceable responses, using all legal avenues available.

As the reality of pipeline construction increases, so has non-violent direct action, such as tree-sitting to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s path. Local and state police as well as pipeline company security guards maintain constant presence at the tree stands. Supporters are not allowed access, food and supplies are withheld and spotlights shine on the tree stands all night.

We hold in the light all those led by their conscience to resist these projects by corporations that place profit over human and environmental well-being and affirm the resisters’ right to humane treatment and peaceful protest.

We ask that Friends insist that those in authority — Gov. Northam, state legislators, The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, affected counties’ supervisors, local and state police — use their power to protect the environment and uphold the rights of our fellow citizens.

Nelson Pipeline Route Plant Rescue, June 1-2


The first Nelson County pipeline plant rescue will happen Saturday and Sunday June 1-2, 2018, with Beth and Neal of Blackberry Botanicals. They would love to have as many volunteers as possible join this first rescue to learn from Blackberry Botanicals so they can host future rescues.

Meet on Saturday at 9am off of Horizons Village Road (off Rt. 151 near Bold Rock Cidery). Take the first right after turning onto Horizons Village Road (there will be a sign). Drive through the open private property gate and continue all the way up. Someone will direct you to park in an open field at the top.

Gather at 9am in the clearing for an orientation with Blackberry Botanicals and to sign a liability waiver for your activity during the weekend. After the orientation, everyone will walk along the pipeline route and identify plants to be transplanted.

Please wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, sturdy shoes, and bring your own lunch and plenty of water. If you use insect repellant, please bring your own. Burlap sacks work well for collecting plant material as you walk. Digging implements (see photo above) are recommended.

You can watch the videos (part 1 and part 2) from the April Blackberry Botanicals training on YouTube.com/iHanuman. There is lots of good information in these videos to help you prepare for the work days.

The Sunday group is smaller (more volunteers needed if you are interested!), and will meet at 10am, most likely a little further up Horizons Village Road; location will be announced after the work day on Saturday.

Please email Sara Agelasto at sagelasto@gmail.com if you would like to participate so Blackberry Botanicals will know to expect you and can send you any last minute updates. Please also email sagelasto@gmail.com if you cannot make this first rescue, but would like to participate in future rescues.

And if you are a landowner and would like to request a rescue on your property, please email sagelasto@gmail.com so Blackberry Botanicals can schedule more rescues in the future.

Upcoming Public Hearing on Nelson Water Sale

In its issue for May 24, 2018, the Nelson County Times reported, Public hearing set on water sale as Service Authority, Atlantic Coast Pipeline near $3.5M deal. The Nelson County Service Authority’s Board of Directors made no decision on a contract with ACP, but at their recent meeting moved forward in the process by setting a public hearing on the water rates set forth in the potential contract, which could result in up to $3.5 million for the Authority. The hearing will take place at 2 p.m. June 21, 2018, at the Service Authority Administrative Building, 620 Cooperative Way, Arrington, VA 22922, in the Colleen Industrial Park.

According to George Miller, the Service Authority’s Executive Director, under the preliminary, “not yet” finalized contract ACP would pay a rate of more than 10 cents per gallon, which is 10 times what all other Service Authority customers in the area pay. Sourcing the water from Lake Monacan at Stoney Creek, the Service Authority would contract to provide 200 gallons per minute, up to 40,000 gallons of water per day from July 2018 through June 2020 at a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. ACP would pay $500,000 for installation and connection of a 3-inch meter (compared to approximately $64,000 connection fee to other customers for a similar meter). Miller said a contract of this size would provide a little more breathing room when it comes to dealing with the authority’s monetary obligations.

The Nelson County Times article notes that, “The contract specifies provision of water is subject to Wintergreen’s water conservation and emergency action plan, which would prioritize the provision of potable water for human consumption in the event of an emergency water shortage.”

The water would primarily be used for the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) process that would bore a path for the pipeline under the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail at Reeds Gap, but could be used for other construction as well. ACP says purchasing water from the Service Authority would eliminate the need to haul in water every day, and that about “10 trips by tankers per day would be eliminated, reducing traffic and wear on Nelson roads.” DEQ requires that all water be treated before discharge, and ACP says that “water that will be used as part of the HDD drilling fluid will be ‘hauled off.'”

No information was provided on how many tanker trips per day would be required to “haul off” the water, nor on where the water would be discharged.

A relevant letter to the editor in the Nelson County Times asks Nelson County officialdom, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, to Think before selling our water.  Another in the Daily Progress says Pipeline negotiations questioned.

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.