As pipeline construction ramps up again, opponents to meet in West Virginia

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 8:33 PM EDT
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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ) - Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline will gather this weekend in West Virginia.

Friday morning, they led reporters on a tour of work sites in Virginia.

Pipeline crews are back at work on Bent Mountain in Roanoke County, preparing the right-of-way for construction the company hopes to complete by the end of the year.

As pipeline opponents gathered Friday morning to talk with reporters, they shared their frustration with the recent actions of Congress to expedite the project. And they raised concerns about the safety of pipes that have been exposed to the elements for the last few years.

“They just have been sitting out in the sunshine for five or six years and they’re not made for that,” one resident said.

“And I’m waiting to see what they’re going to do or not do to these pipes,” said another.

In a written statement Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the company said federal regulators are conducting field inspections to make sure the pipeline has the proper coatings. And MVP said it welcomes the expertise and oversight of federal and state regulators.

In the statement, MVP referred to recent oversight by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:

“The Notice of Proposed Safety Order issued by PHMSA for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project on August 11, 2023, was intended to instill public confidence in the responsible construction and safe operation of the pipeline, and we agree with PHMSA that transparently outlining the steps being taken by the MVP project team to safely complete construction of the pipeline is of utmost importance to the public. Importantly, and as noted in the proposed order, PHMSA continues to conduct field inspections of MVP’s coating remediation processes, which were previously reviewed by the agency.

We continue to coordinate with PHMSA regarding our previously requested informal consultation and look forward to an expeditious resolution. Project construction remains targeted for completion by the end of this year, and we welcome the expertise and oversight of federal and state regulators as they continue to audit our construction practices during the next few months.”

More than 150 people are expected for the gathering of opponents this weekend in West Virginia.

As construction resumes along the pipeline right-of-way, opponents say they wanted to reconvene and refresh their effort, and perhaps bring new people to their cause.

“There is a deep frustration in our community about what happened with the so-called Fiscal Responsibility Act,” said Russell Chisholm a leader of the Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights Coalition (POWHR). “Folks have been talking about how they tipped the scales, and closed the courts to us and left us very little recourse, so again it feels like it falls to us to protect each other and that’s what we’ve always done. And this weekend’s event is a great example of that.”