Impacts from Florence raise concerns from pipeline opponents

Published: Sep. 18, 2018 at 8:03 PM EDT
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Water was still running from a hillside in Roanoke County two days after the ground gave way below the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline..

Residents of Bent Mountain aren't blaming construction. The pipeline hasn't been buried there yet, but they say it shows how water flows through the perched aquifer they depend on for drinking water.

Roberta Bondurant is a Bent Mountain resident who opposes the Mountain Valley pipeline.

"This place has already been established as incredibly fragile," Bondurant said. "You have an incredibly unsound base on which to lay your 42-inch fracked gas pipe."

Not far away, heavy rainfall and runoff washed out a drainage area beside the pipeline right of way, causing the ground to subside along a Blue Ridge Parkway access road.

"If you have drainage that's just a gentle easy slope such as this, and it's caused this kind of damage," said Bent Mountain resident Robin Austin, "what's going to happen when it's drainage off of a steep slope?"

And on Green Hollow Drive, a pipeline access road that was knee deep during the storm, still has water flowing across.

"Hydro-geologically this area is not suited to the pipeline project," said Bent Mountain landowner Kathy Chandler, "and this event of rain encapsulate that all over again."

We haven't received any reports of major failures along the route of the pipeline in the wake of Florence.

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said crews spent several days preparing for unprecedented weather conditions, and will continue to monitor controls and make enhancements as necessary.

Here is the company's complete statement:

"MVP construction crews worked for several days to ensure advance preparations and plans were in place for the potential of unprecedented weather conditions along the route. As of Monday, September 17, 2018, rainfall has been less than was originally forecast and MVP crews continue to monitor controls and make enhancements as necessary."