Dominion Representatives Address Environmental Questions

Environmental concerns are a key issue surrounding the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Allegheny Mountain Radio spoke with Dominion representatives at their Highland County open house to discuss how the company intends to address building the pipeline through the region’s karst topography, as well as cross sensitive national forest areas.

Randy Rogers, with GAI Consultants and on staff with Dominion, spoke about the specifics of routing and constructing the pipeline.

“It’s not new territory for Dominion,” said Rogers. “Dominion operates several hundred miles of pipeline within areas that have been designated as karst prone by the USGS (United States Geological Survey).  Pretty much every valley in Highland County and Augusta County, the valley floors are karst – you cannot cross Highland County without crossing karst.”

Mr. Rogers explained how the route is decided.

“What we do in our routing process, is to identify sensitive features within that karst landscape – such as springs, underground water courses, cave entrances and try to route our line to avoid those sensitive features,” he said. “We also want to work with the landowners, both that are affected and are adjacent to the study corridor for the route to identify any springs that are there.  As part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process, all pipelines are required to identify springs and water wells that are within 150 feet of the right of way – not the pipeline, but the limit of your disturbance. Those springs and wetlands will be tested prior to construction, and after construction, to document any changes, should there be any.”

While this pipeline will be larger than any previously constructed by Dominion, the processes are similar.

“We’ll have to have a little bit wider temporary right-of-way, for the 42 inch pipe, but as far at the general dimensions of your trench, of volume of material that you’re moving and handling, it’s in the same realm,” said Rogers.

Mr. Rogers was asked if he felt a project of this size was manageable.

“I absolutely do,” he said, “given my history with Dominion, as an employee of Dominion and current consultant for them. Dominon is committed to doing it right.”

Jim Norville, director of communications, talked about the path affecting sensitive national forest areas.

“The national forest, is a landowner, just like a private landowner would be,” said Norville. “The only difference is they’re guardians of a public piece of land. The national forests’ already have various utilities that cross through them.”

“The process is that we would meet with them, and we open a discussion with them – we show them where we think the route could go, and then they work with us and say no, you can’t go there, can you move the pipe a little bit, or you can’t go there at all because that’s the habitat of a protected species.  We are continuing to have discussions with the George Washington National Forest, with the Monongahela National Forest, and we will eventually have to file paperwork to detail those discussions and the decisions or the proposals that we are putting forth to the forest service. Right now, just like every landowner, it’s very preliminary, we’re still in the discussion phase.”

Stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio for commentary from residents attending the open house.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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