Category Archives: Notice of Violation

Citizen Observers Continue to Document Violations


As construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline ramps up again (although in some places it never actually ceased, despite the stop work order), citizen observers have and will continue to document the many and ongoing MVP violations of Erosion and Sediment Control Standards specified by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and its State Water Control Board.

For example, on-site in the same location that DEQ had recently inspected, the Virginia Pipeline Violations team encountered multiple, extensive mudslides, in some places thick, wet mud nearly a foot deep, washing from the construction area – in the same location where DEQ/MVP inspectors claimed on August 21 that there was no evidence of silt leaving the construction area. Concerned citizens relentlessly demanded that DEQ return, and on August 28 DEQ found violations on this location.

Mountain Valley Watch Issues Report

After three months of monitoring the construction work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Mountain Valley Watch, a citizen watchdog group, has submitted detailed comments to the Virginia State Water Control Board. Through August 7, 2018, Mountain Valley Watch volunteers submitted 277 reports of suspected improper erosion controls at Southwest Virginia construction sites, reports which professional engineers and academics evaluated before submitting 58 complaints to DEQ.

The executive Summary of the report states, “The data demonstrates that:

  • Precision Pipeline frequently failed to employ Best Management Practices and properly install required erosion control devices and maintain them. The direct result is the serious impairment of Virginia waters.
  • The extent and repetition of these failures (often in the same location), consistent with research in referenced journals, indicates the limitations of BMPs in mountainous terrain. BMPs are not infallible, nor are they intended to be so; they are designed to minimize adverse impacts. Rain events, well within the standard of “normal,” on steep slopes of upland watersheds overwhelm BMPs. This is documented in scientific reports in refereed journals.
  • The processes by which DEQ decided the Nationwide Permit 12 and conducted the 30 day public comment period were fundamentally flawed, contributing to an unsubstantiated opinion that MVP construction would not significantly impair Virginia waters. This report demonstrates significant sediment loading into streams.
  • It is imperative that DEQ and the SWCB revisit their decisions to approve the Section 401 Certification and Nationwide 12 permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
  • There is a reasonable likelihood, based in on the facts on the ground, that continued construction will continue to significantly adversely impact Virginia water for years to come.

Court Upholds VA Water Quality Review for MVP

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond has upheld Virginia’s much-criticized water quality review for Mountain Valley Pipeline. According to press coverage of the decision in the Roanoke Times and the Virginia Mercury, “The panel of judges rejected arguments from the Sierra Club and other organizations that the State Water Control Board incorrectly found there was a ‘reasonable assurance’ that state water quality standards would be upheld when it issued a certification under the federal Clean Water Act for the project.” The ruling applies to the 500 or more waterbody crossings on the MVP route in Southwest Virginia.

“The construction of the project was exactly that, a large construction project, and the State Agencies very reasonably undertook to protect their waters with the ‘tried and true’ methods developed for just this purpose,” Judge William Traxler wrote for a three-judge panel. “We see no purpose we would serve by stepping in and second-guessing the analytical methods Virginia deemed appropriate to provide it with reasonable assurance that its water quality would be protected,” the 47-page opinion stated.

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling,” the conservation group Wild Virginia said in a statement. “The court relied in large part on the state’s assurances that the requirements in the certification and the enforcement of those requirements would uphold our water quality standards. The facts on the ground in the MVP construction areas in Virginia show all too clearly that those assurances were untrue and unsupportable.”

To date, Virginia’s DEQ has issued six notices of violation against MVP, finding that measures to control muddy runoff were inadequate at construction sites in Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties, and five similar notices of violation have been issued in West Virginia.

Read the full 47-page opinion here.

DEQ Gives Notice to MVP on Violations


On July 10, 2018, both the Roanoke Times and WSLS10 reported that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has given EQT Corp. in Pittsburgh, builder of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a nine-page notice of environmental violations punishable by fines and repair mandates. The notice says MVP failed to install and maintain erosion-control devices has fouled 8,800 feet of streams in six locations.

Read the full Notice of Violation.

According to the Roanoke Times, “The Virginia notice is not a finding of guilt or liability but a set of allegations over which the company and regulators are to negotiate and reach agreement. In Virginia, fines for environmental violations of the type alleged can reach $32,000 per day. ‘We are holding MVP accountable and we expect full resolution of the issues,’ DEQ spokeswoman Ann Regn said Tuesday. …. The unexpectedly large rainfall won’t qualify as an excuse for not keeping sediment under control, said Regn, who added that the company is responsible for cleanup.”

The company has 10 days to respond – BUT they are allowed to keep working during the 10 days.

POSTPONED – Augusta County Alliance Asks for Meeting Attendees on July 10, 2018


UPDATE:  According to the July 6, 2018, Staunton News Leader, the July 10 hearing was postponed by the Board of Zoning Appeals to meet requirements as described in the Code of Virginia for the appropriate advertisement of such hearings. A new hearing date will be set.

The Augusta County Alliance is calling for the community’s help to keep Dominion honest as it continues pushing ahead on its plans for this destructive, unsafe, and unnecessary pipeline project. They need your attendance at the Staunton Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, Tuesday, July 10, 2018, 2 p.m. in the Staunton City Council Chambers (116 W Beverley St., Staunton, VA, 24401).

Apparently Dominion has been storing heavy construction equipment, buses, and supplies for pipeline construction on a lot owned by Staunton Tractor off Richmond Avenue. The city of Staunton informed Staunton Tractor that creating a “contractor’s equipment storage area” is not a permitted use at that site. In a notice of violation sent to Staunton Tractor, the city’s Planning & Zoning Division noted: “As we understand it, this equipment is not part of your inventory for sale and is not present for repair work to be done on it. This part of the property is being used essentially as a contractors’ establishment, serving as an operation staging site for a contractor.”

Staunton Tractor has appealed the notice of violation, asserting that the land is grandfathered in for storage of equipment and that the equipment is being stored there so that it can be repaired and maintained.

The matter will be heard by the Staunton Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday, July 10 at 2 p.m. in the Staunton City Council Chambers. This is a public hearing and your comments are important! Remind Staunton Tractor and Dominion that rules are there for a reason and everyone has to play by the same rule book.

Come out and voice your opinion!

For further information, email info@augustacountyalliance.org.

CSI Seeks FERC Investigation of Potential ACP Violations

Apparent equipment staging area and new or reconstructed road and bridges observed during Pipeline Air Force surveillance flights. (3/11/18)

On March 14, 2018, we reported on the first incident report from the Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), apparent unauthorized access road and staging area construction in the MP158 area, the Augusta County Horizontal Direction Drilling area. A request was filed March 22 on behalf of Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to investigate potential violations by Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) of the Commission’s Certificate and Virginia’s water quality certification. Aerial photographs taken earlier in March by ABRA’s CSI showed what appears to be substantial construction work in an area of Augusta County, near the site from which ACP proposes to bore through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The photographs show new and improved roads, new bridges, and what appear to be equipment parking and staging areas.

The observed activities do not appear to have been authorized under any of the limited Notices to Proceed FERC has issued, which allow tree cutting by non-mechanized means. The request explains that these actions will impact water quality in a number of ways and that, since the State of Virginia has not approved erosion and sediment control and stormwater plans and its water quality certification is not effective, possible land disturbance, changes to stormwater flows, and other effects must not be allowed. The submittal to FERC also notes that ACP’s weekly status reports have not provided notice of any of these activities and that environmental compliance reports indicate these sites have not been inspected.

The submitters also asked that the Commission report on its investigative proceedings and findings to ABRA, the CSI, and the public and that it not invoke regulatory provisions to keep this information from citizens.