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Gov. Northam, Your Oath to “Do No Harm” Applies to the Virginians You Swore to Protect. Where Are You?

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by Deborah Kushner

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be holding job fairs along the proposed pipeline route this week. Does anyone dare apply? Three of the four construction firms that comprise Spring Ridge Constructors LLC have less-than-stellar histories, despite Dominion Energy (the utility monopoly/behemoth behind the pipeline) spokesman Aaron Ruby’s reassurance that “We selected the best of the best.” 1

In fact, the companies set to build the largest possible diameter pipeline in the least hospitable terrain with yet unproven techniques have a highly checkered past. See below for a few examples of what I mean. Also note that pipeline companies seem to split and splinter like balsam, so I’ve included parent and affiliate companies.

Price Gregory International, Inc (affiliate of Quanta Services, Inc.)
* Contractors risked worker lives and “catastrophic failure” at Anchorage power plant, state charges 2
* Quanta Services’ record of 61 violations and $3 million+ in fines 3
* Fatality 10/5/09 4
* Fatality 8/4/15 5

SMPC (Michels Corp)
* Labor relations issues 6
* Threatened flower species in Vermont destroyed 7
* Utility faces $3M fine for pipeline blast 8
* Michels: MMSD exaggerated sewage dump 9
* 1/4 million may go without heat while utility and railroad argue over alleged train track weakening during nearby pipeline construction by Michels 10
* Fatality 4/6/11 11
* Fatality 3/1/14 12
* Fatality 3/14/14 13

Primoris
* Officials: Pipeline company must leave Oak Ridge 14
* Pipeline employees and welders shorted on over time pay 15
* Fatality 6/2/15 16

Given this evidence, combined with the damage that pipeline construction is already doing, Governor Ralph Northam’s silence speaks volumes. Citizens along both the ACP and Mountain Valley Pipeline routes have pleaded for him to visit historic and ecologically sensitive areas that are targeted for destruction – yet he hasn’t done so. Although a medical professional, Gov. Northam’s silence appears to indicate disinterest in the science or understanding of the dangers inherent in fracked-gas pipeline infrastructure. Dare we hope that Gov. Northam acts to add scrutiny and controls on these construction companies? Gov. Northam has the power and the responsibility to order an investigation into these businesses. However, if his stony silence and lack of action continues, this duty must be assumed by the press and by citizens.

Governor, your oath to “do no harm” applies to the Virginians you swore to protect. Where are you?

1 http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/widow-s-appeal-of-atlantic-coast-pipeline-survey-to-test/article_c5eabc03-8986-5248-891b-8612c47028cd.html

2 https://www.adn.com/business-economy/energy/2017/03/24/contractors-risked-worker-lives-at-anchorage-power-plant-state-charges/

3 https://violationtracker.goodjobsfirst.org/parent/quanta-services

https://www.osha.gov/dep/fatcat/fatcat_weekly_rpt_10092009.html

5 http://metroforensics.blogspot.com/2015/08/pipeline-worker-of-price-gregory-int.html

6 http://www.nrtw.org/news/michels-corp-construction-worker-wins-thousands-in-settlement-from-company-union-after-illegal-firing-0/

7 https://vtdigger.org/2017/05/30/vermont-gas-systems-fined-environmental-violation/

8 http://www.paintsquare.com/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=view&id=15539  (Pilichuk was acquired by Michels in 1999.)

9 http://dailyreporter.com/2003/07/23/michels-mmsd-exaggerated-sewage-dump/

10 https://www.constructionequipment.com/14-million-may-go-without-heat-while-utility-and-railroad-argue

11 https://www.osha.gov/dep/fatcat/fatcat_weekly_rpt_04092011.html

12 https://www.equipmentworld.com/worker-killed-in-equipment-accident-near-milwaukee/

13 http://www.thegazette.com/2014/03/17/illinois-man-killed-in-work-related-incident-in-cedar-rapids

14 http://www.greensboro.com/news/local_news/officials-pipeline-company-must-leave-oak-ridge-land/article_0ae1ff89-31a7-5776-bfef-97283faec262.html

15 https://www.pzslaw.com/blog/2014/10/pipeline-employees-and-welders-shorted-on-overtime-pay.shtml (Sprint Pipeline Services acquired by Primoris in 3/2012)

16 https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=1079094.015