Dominion Continues to Frustrate and Obfuscate Nelsonians at Open House

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

     photo OutsidetheNelsonCountyDominionpresentation_e_zps7c8cd28d-1.jpgIt was a frustrating evening for the hundreds of Nelsonians who attended an “Open House” hosted by Dominion to lay out its planned route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Lined up outside the entry door, residents came prepared with questions, most of which went unanswered.  The same old rehearsed lines were stated over and over again.  “This is in the preliminary stages, we just don’t know yet.”  “We haven’t done the engineering yet, we can’t answer that now.”  “That depends on the category you are in, and we’re not sure yet.”  “We’ll abide by all DEQ and FERC regulations.”

    In a divide and conquer tactic, Dominion had stations set up, which allowed them to frequently tell Nelsonians looking for answers they would have to move to another station, stand in another line, to ask a different “expert” the question they wanted answered.  Attendees heard frequently, “You’ll have to ask so and so that question, I don’t know.”

    Anti-pipeline group, Free Nelson, attended the event and its members learned several of Dominion’s representatives weren’t from Virginia.  When speaking to one rep about the devastation caused in Nelson by Hurricane Camille, particularly the Davis Creek area, Free Nelson was surprised the representative looked so confused.  When asked, “Are you from Virginia?”  “Well, no,” she replied, “but most of the Dominion representatives here are.”  Free Nelson explained about the 12 mudslides in the Davis Creek area during Camille which took the lives of 52 people, 20 of whom were never found.  When Free Nelson pointed out the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is routed through the Davis Creek area, the Dominion rep replied,  “Well, we have a procedure to follow should we find human remains.”

     photo InsidetheNelsonCountyDominionpresentation_e_zps08c0cf45.jpgFree Nelson spoke with another representative who said he’d worked in five states for Dominion….Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Colorado.  When asked why attendees couldn’t get straight answers, he replied “the engineering hasn’t been done yet.”   The interesting tidbit he did share was Virginia is the only state of the five where he has worked which allows Dominion to survey private property without landowner permission.  He said we really should talk to our state legislators about changing that law.

    There also seemed to be some confusion about the route of the proposed pipeline.  One attendee was representing her brother-in-law as a landowner because he had received a letter requesting permission to survey his property.  To her surprise the Dominion maps didn’t have the pipeline crossing his property at all.  Another attendee had been assured by email from a Dominion representative the pipeline would not cross her property but did cross an adjoining property.  She was surprised when she saw the red lines indicating the pipeline route crossing her property. She had not received Dominion’s letter.  Of course, the Dominion representative blamed the confusion on County government saying it didn’t have up-to-date GIS records.

    Free Nelson asked if Dominion would go over the mountains, or bore through them.  The representative said they would bore through and they would have to blast in some areas.  The representative said, “You don’t need to worry, the explosives will be covered and they just go poof.”   Free Nelson retorted,  “So, I guess in our rivers, the explosions just go splash?”  Asked about the projected lifespan of the pipe, a representative said 30 to 40 years and then added, “What do you care?  You won’t be around,”

    Possibly the most truthful answer came when a representative was asked if Dominion would own the natural gas in the pipeline and the representative forthrightly said, “No.”   The follow up question, “Does that mean Dominion’s role is solely to transport the gas, and  Dominion has no say in who receives it?”  Dominion’s representative said “That is correct.”

    Other anti-pipeline groups, Friends of Nelson and the Pipeline Education Group, had tables outside the venue with information about the proposed pipeline and hydraulic fracturing, in addition to “No Pipeline” signs, t-shirts, stickers and bumper stickers.  The T-shirts sold out and many property owners took “No Pipeline” signs to adorn their yards.  Protestors lined the highway easement along Route 29 with No Pipeline, No Dominion signs and received the support of passers by with honking horns and many cheers!

    The Washington Post in recent reporting on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline quoted Bob Holsworth:

     “McAuliffe has just made a calculation on this,” Holsworth said. “It isn’t a political liability until we see that these environmental groups are able to develop grass-roots traction to be able to successfully oppose this.”

    Free Nelson would like to let Dr. Holsworth and Governor McAuliffe know the grassroots traction is here and has been here since Dominion mailed its first set of letters!

    • pontoon

      and posting the link on the Free Nelson FB page, I’ve been receiving emails from folks who attended the open house.  Here’s an example of one person’s interactions with Dominion representatives.  The interaction shows just how little “research” Dominion has done on the “best possible route” for its pipeline, as well as how disrespectful Dominion is of the landowners and citizens who will be affected by this monstrosity.

      “Good morning Sharon. It was nice meeting you at dominion’s dog & pony show yesterday. I went in with a list of written questions and wrote down the answers I got. Most of my questions were referred to a different booth, sometimes repeatedly, and often got no answers at all. I’d like to share with you the answers I did get. However, I read a newspaper article a few weeks ago where a dominion representative was quoted as saying that they were “continuing to work to identify interest groups who are trying to keep us out” which I found a little threatening, so I would not like to be identified by name if you use this material anywhere, OK?

      ME: Will this pipeline ever be used to transport anything other than natural gas?

      DOM: No

      ME: Will that be guaranteed in writing as part of your FERC application?

      DOM: Yes

      ME: How many above-ground facilities will be located here in Nelson?

      DOM (Engineering): Like what?

      ME: Gas valves, piglaunchers, metering stations.

      DOM: Well, in some areas these are required every 4 miles, in some areas only every 20 miles.

      ME: So how many will be in Nelson County?

      DOM: We don’t know yet.

      ME: How much in taxes will be paid to the county each year?

      DOM: We don’t know. We’ll pay whatever bill the county sends us.

      ME: Leaks and explosion will have to be dealt with by county first responders who are mostly volunteers here. Will you be providing any funds or equipment for this?

      DOM: We will be conducting training seminars on a regular basis for all counties on the pipeline route.

      ME: That wasn’t my question. Funds or equipment?

      DOM: No. But we will provide regular training seminars.

      ME: Will you pay first responders to attend these seminars?

      DOM: No.

      ME: So first responders will have to attend these training seminars on their own time, or be paid by the county to learn how to take care of your pipeline?

      DOM: Well……

      ME: How many jobs will this project generate in Nelson County?

      DOM: I haven’t a clue.

      ME: The pipeline will cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and the

      Appalachian Trail. Will these be closed down during construction?

      DOM (Engineering). No.

      ME: Will you be dynamiting those areas?

      DOM. No. We will be boring under them with boring machines.

      ME: Both of those things run along steep ridgetops. How will you get equipment up there and do this boring in that kind of terrain?

      DOM: Staging areas, plateaus, will be constructed on either side, and we will use existing roads and trails.

      ME: So the BRP and AT will have to be closed for this?

      DOM: Well, yes, but for the shortest possible amount of time.

      ME: So your answer just went from no to yes?

      DOM: Uh….

      Another land owner, pointing at a spot on a map up on the stage area [of the Nelson Center]:

      So here’s Davis Creek, here is my place right here, right here on Davis Creek there was a logjam, in ’69, that flooded this area here, one family lost 53 people (sic).

      DOM: What?

      ME: Hurricane Camille. 27″ of rain overnight. Whole mountainsides collapsed into the valleys. You passed the scars on the mountains off Rt. 29 on your way down here today. Over 120 people were killed.

      DOM: WHAT???

      ME: How many bodies of water will the pipeline cross in Nelson County?

      DOM: Define bodies of water.

      ME: Streams, lakes, ponds, rivers.

      DOM: We don’t know yet.

      ME: I see on your map of the route here, the James River is shown coming out of the mountains and then it disappears, never reaching Nelson County, never reaching the Chesapeake Bay. Why is that?

      DOM: OK, if we put it back on there, will that make you happy?

      ME: Why would you build a pipeline through such ecologically sensitive areas?

      DOM: How would you like having no electricity?

      (That exchange with a bespectacled fellow at the Project Overview booth just inside the door).”

    • pontoon

      Hi Sharon – here is my best recollection of the highlights of our discussion with the Dominion representative at the “Environmental” table.  

      Question – what happens when Dominion encounters the many wetlands that they undoubtedly will in Nelson?

      Response – We have experience with this. We will remove the wetlands and then replace them when the pipeline construction is completed.

      Question:  Say What? – What will happen to the wildflowers, amphibians, other life in the wetlands?

      Response – We have a system of removal and replacement that minimizes any damage.  And – we are required to monitor the wetlands for 2-3 years.

      Question: Who is Responsible for the Monitoring?

      Response: FERC and Army Corps of Engineers

      Question: So, what happens if the monitoring shows issues?

      Response – mitigation

      Question –  If you have such a good “system” of removal and replacement, then why does it need to be monitored for 2-3 years?

      At this point, another participant said “Do you really believe this?”  The representative responded that she wished she had brought information that shows their success with wetlands, and would make sure this happened during the next round.