Dominion Holds Open House at Snowshoe Regarding the Pipeline

On the evening of March 10th, Dominion Power held an informational open house regarding their proposed new route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  As the public entered the Mountain Lodge where the open house was held, they were handed a one page fact sheet put out by WVMATTERS.COM, an anti-pipeline organization. The paper listed a number of “facts” about the pipeline.

I asked Engineer Colin Olness of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Engineering and Construction Group about the items on the WVMATTERS sheet. The sheet stated that the construction corridor would be 125 feet wide with additional work areas averaging 200 feet with an additional 30 feet needed in steep terrain. Colin addressed this.

“So the construction corridor is 125 feet wide – that is true” said Olness. “The second part of this- ‘with additional work areas averaging 200 feet wide for spoil’ –that’s not correct. There are areas where we will go out to 200 feet –but that’s at road crossings, stream crossings and the only reason is you have additional work space. For incidence in a wet lands you narrow down to 75 feet and on either side of that you have additional work space for equipment and pipe storage and things so it is 125 feet with a 75 foot permanent corridor.”

The fact sheet claimed the average width is 347 feet. Colin answers that.

“I am not sure where that comes from – that’s 125 feet” Olness says. “This is a FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) Project and they allow us a limit of disturbance that’s pre-defined, so 347 feet is nowhere on the project do we have anything like that.”

The next item on the WVMATTERS sheet said that “unknown additional width is required for specialized pipeline construction procedures for steep slopes & terrain equipment and emergency access” . Collin.

“Certainly not unknown- we know what it takes. That’s how we determine the route” Olness said. “The route is determined by what equipment and constructability. We have our limits of disturbance defined.”

WVMATTERS Sheet says “FERC regulations state that the maximum width allowed is 100 feet more than stated in project design.” Collin answers.

“Sorry, I don’t know what that one means” Olness said. “We’re staying within our 125 feet, or we have additional temporary workspace. When we go through an agricultural field we have an additional 10 feet to separate the topsoil – but it’s a hundred and twenty-five feet.”

WV MATTERS says that the trenches will be 26 feet deep and 30 feet wide to bury the 42 inch pipe. Collin.

“Our pipeline is typically at –say 10 feet –it goes from 8 ½ to 10 feet deep” said Olness. “The top of the pipeline is either 3 or 4 feet (deep) –or we go under a road or a stream, it’s deeper. It’s 5 foot minimum for road crossings and at streams, it is site specific. The idea that we go 26 feet deep, I am not sure. I don’t know where that comes from. Certainly 30 feet wide, I am not sure what they mean by that. There are instances where we go deeper as we may go up a ridge. So we may go deeper, but 26 feet sounds very extreme.”

The sheet again referred to 347 foot wide construction right-of-way with additional work areas to be cleared and graded. Collin.

“The numbers don’t add up” Olness said. “If we clear 125 feet- we clear additional temporary work space but we have limits of disturbance and we’re not allowed to clear outside of that. And it’s not a 347 foot clearing.”

Pipeline Engineering Manager Brittany Moody also addresses the 347 foot claim.

“So we’re looking for a 300 foot study corridor” said Moody. “Basically that’s so that we have room to shift inside that so we can pick up a route through there. Now we will need 125 feet during construction – that’s what we’ll use for our construction right-of-way, and than we will have 75 feet that we will maintain as our permanent right-of-way. We will only disturb the 125 feet nominal right-of-way and then after construction it will just be the 75 feet.”

In part two of this story we will address the building of the pipeline though karst terrain and about possibly trenching through the Greenbrier River. Allegheny Mountain Radio will continue to present stories on both sides of this issue so that you –the listener – can make your own decision about which side’s facts you believe.






Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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