From Rick Webb, Committee Chair, Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance
Dominion Energy asserts that the ACP has received an unprecedented level of regulatory review, and it’s time to get on with it. Meanwhile it withholds its real construction plans while expecting broad waivers from environmental conditions and standards.
The curtain was pulled back in February 2018 when, after protracted delay, Dominion submitted site-specific plans to the Forest Service for six high-hazard locations in Virginia. Based on these plans we know that:
• the steepest mountainsides will be held in place using heavy-wire mesh fastened to underlying bedrock with 8 to 15-foot or longer “nails”
• excess spoil resulting from trench and workspace excavation may be spread on ridgelines or deposited adjacent the pipeline corridor
• trenches will be dynamited through high-quality streams and backfilled with concrete
It also seems that Dominion is ignoring or perhaps intends to seek a wholesale variance from the State Water Control Board’s requirement that it reduce the width of the construction corridor from 125 feet to 75 feet within 50 feet of streams and wetlands to minimize the extent of riparian buffer disturbance. The most-recent available plans indicate that the width of construction disturbance at stream crossings remains 125-feet wide.
And it remains unclear if Dominion expects to receive a general variance allowing it to exceed the 500-foot open trench limit imposed by Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control regulations. Dominion has indicated that it will seek open-trench variances that will cover 99% of the pipeline corridor in western Virginia, including even the steepest mountainsides.