Pipeline: A matter of numbers

pipeline4By Marilyn Shifflett

After many long months, the ACP and Dominion are now releasing details of the proposed pipeline through several West Virginia counties and the Virginia counties of Highland, Augusta, and Nelson. The resource reports are publicly accessible via the FERC’s and Dominion’s sites. Reading through the geological resource report, I spotted the following quote: “As indicated in Table  6.4.2-1 below, 156.6 miles of the ACP and 36.7 miles of the SHP are located in areas with high incidence and/or susceptibility to landslides.”

The total is 193.3 miles; more than one third of the total 550 miles of the pipeline. Table 6.4.2-1 states a total “crossing length” in Nelson as 26.6 miles of which 23.5 miles is cited as “high risk” for landslides/mudslides. While they failed to specifically address the Virginia Department. of Emergency Management’s  recommendation against “energy pipelines” in these areas, their stated numbers are staggering. The value of all properties on and below these slope crossings put at risk for damage from “slippage”, must be calculated as a “probable” negative economic impact for this project. In addition, the risk of run-off to streams and rivers and the costs of repairing such damage must be included and considered as probable for the “life” of this pipeline. The I-64 crossing at Afton Mtn. and the near-constant maintenance required of VDOT to hold these slopes at bay is a testament to the long-term impact of clear-cutting and dynamiting of Nelson slopes. Dominion’s proposed “deeper trenching”, “terraced cement barriers”, and possible “crushing of bedrock” as backfill are most concerning. Federal and private climatology experts cite areas along the Blue Ridge as orographic lift zones, prone to heavy rainfall in short periods of time; a fact that all who have lived here are quite familiar with.

If the human safety factor is added for all residents put at risk from earth and rock movement on slopes, one can only conclude that the ACP through steep, sloped terrain is simply too risky.

Marilyn Shifflett resides in Nellysford.

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