Part Two- ACP opposition moving into 2017

In the first part of this pair of stories we reviewed some of the events since last February when Allegheny Mountain Radio listeners learned the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would shift south, going through less of Highland County and more of Bath. The developers still plan to go through parts of Pocahontas, the south west corner of Highland, and then as part of the GW6 adaptation, traverse Little Valley in western Bath, go east over a few ridges, go under the Cowpasture River just north of Fort Lewis Lodge, skirt Shenandoah Mountain, and travel north through the Deerfield Valley before turning east in Augusta County towards Staunton.

Augusta and Nelson County residents rallied early in the struggle, and continue to help local opposition groups here who have had to learn a whole lot fast.

There are at least fifty member organizations of the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance representing people from all walks of life, from the Satchidananda Ashram in Buckingham County to West Virginians for Property Rights in Dunmore, West Virginia.   Photographs on ABRA’s website show the impact of pipelines already under construction- both the clearcutting of the Right of Ways, and on the quality of water down stream from river crossings. One of the photos shows a vast cleared corridor and trench through Giles County for a twelve-inch diameter pipe. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is designed to be forty-two inches around.

Malcolm G. Cameron, Coordinator of Geohazards Analysis for DPMC is an environmental engineer from Mt. Crawford Virginia. A report he prepared describes why residents of Little Valley in Bath County and beyond, have reason to be very concerned about any construction. In July 2015 after heavy rainfall, residents there experienced several landslides on both sides of the valley.

“These slides range from small slumps along ravines up to a one-quarter-acre rotational slide that traveled over 450 feet down the upper east slope of Little Mountain. At least 3 prehistoric landslides are identified, one of which was overlapped by the large July 2015 slide. With slopes averaging 30 to 55 percent and up to over 80 percent combined with unstable soils, any construction involves a high risk of landslides during heavy rainfall events.” The report concludes that mitigation to avoid slope failures will be difficult to impossible on such steep mountainsides.

Another report prepared by the US Forest Service about the Monongahela flooding of last June 2016, advised such an event should no longer be considered unusual. Disturbed soils are even more susceptible to landslides, and the Forest Service has standards and guidelines that must be followed when operating equipment on those slopes. The Forest Service Plan also generally prohibits operating equipment on slopes more than 58% without special approval. Both the route of the ACP, and many of the access roads are on slopes more than 40%, with large parts over 58%.

So, from geohazzards, to at-risk private property rights, and a damaged tourism industry, opponents to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will have their work cut out for them in 2017. Times and locations for more public comment, as well as news coverage from all sides of the issue will continue to be aired on Allegheny Mountain Radio.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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