DEQ pipeline approvals bring strong reaction in Montgomery County

By  | 

MONTGOMERY CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Even when we couldn't see the crews and their chainsaws, we could hear their handiwork in the Mt. Tabor section of Montgomery County.

And landowners like Donna Jones aren't happy to see their trees coming down.

"It makes me angry, and it makes me frustrated and really sad," Jones told WDBJ7 Tuesday afternoon.

So far, contractors hired by the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been felling trees in the pipeline corridor, but construction could soon follow.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved plans it says will protect water quality, authorizing MVP to begin activities that will disturb the land.

Tom Triplett showed us his property, where melting snow has filled creeks and springs, and water is bubbling up in the middle of the pipeline right of way.

"What's going to happen when they put a ten-foot ditch in there," Triplett said. "It's going to destroy or disturb the aquifers underneath the surface. and we don't know what it's doing down there."

The Department of Environmental Quality says protecting water quality and water supplies is the agency's greatest concern.

But pipeline opponents in Montgomery County question whether the agency has done its homework in an area of steep terrain that's riddled with sinkholes, caves and water that flows underground.

"Unless you're on the ground and you see these slopes, and you have personnel out here to monitor this, which they're not going to have, this can't be done," said Lynda Majors. "No, the water resource here is going to be damaged."

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said the company has worked diligently to identify a route with the least overall impact.

The company shared the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"Mountain Valley Pipeline appreciates the Virginia DEQ's rigorous review of the project's erosion and sediment control and stormwater management plans. We look forward to proceeding with construction activities on this important infrastructure project and meeting demand for affordable, reliable domestic natural gas in homes and businesses across the region.

The MVP project team has worked diligently to identify a route that poses the least overall impact on communities, cultural and historic resources, and environmentally sensitive areas, including karst topography regions. Karst terrain is prevalent in the United States and accounts for approximately 40 % of the area east of the Mississippi River, where several thousand miles of pipeline have been constructed and continue to operate safely.

Tree felling activity continues in permitted areas along the route, and the MVP project remains on schedule for construction to be complete and the pipeline to enter service by the end of the year.

Given the extremely fluid nature of overall construction scheduling, it is difficult to provide a definitive start date or schedule for construction activities of any type. Everything from weather conditions to the availability of equipment can alter the scheduling of activities."