Pipeline opponents raise more concerns about environmental impact

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FRANKLIN CO., Va. (WDBJ7) In August, Mountain Valley Pipeline officials said they would voluntarily suspend work in areas where there was a risk to endangered species or critical habitat.

WDBJ7 photo

But opponents of the project question whether work that continues, and inadequate erosion controls along the route, are doing just that.

"You don't need to do anything but walk the right-of-way, to see the problems with this site," pipeline opponent Roberta Bondurant told WDBJ7 Monday afternoon.

She took us to a family farm in Franklin County, where Mountain Valley Watch has documented problems with excessive run-off.

The property is near the point where Little Creek and the Blackwater River converge, sending sediment into a potential habitat for the endangered Roanoke logperch.

Bondurant says MVP controls and Department of Environmental Quality oversight are inadequate.

"It says that a private out-of-state LLC corporation is being able to write its own rules here," Bondurant said, "and the Commonwealth of Virginia needs to stand up to that."

At Wade's Gap, MVP crews are boring under an unnamed tributary that feeds the North Fork of the Blackwater River.

Bondurant said the work has continued there for several weeks, and is so substantial, it should have required additional review by regulators to make sure it wouldn't cause harm to sensitive waters.

By Monday evening, MVP hadn't responded to our request for a response, but the company has said environmental protection is a primary concern. We will update this story when we receive a statement.

A representative of the DEQ said the state agency continues to log and investigate complaints involving erosion and sediment control, and its inspectors have issued notices for corrective action where required.

But Bondurant says she hopes industry regulators and officials at all levels will step up their oversight, to stop what she believes are clear violations of environmental standards.

Following is the statement from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Monday afternoon:

"DEQ's authority and responsibility is for erosion and sediment control (ESC). ESC violations have been recorded and are being addressed by Virginia's Attorney General through a consent order.

"Between June 27 – August 30, 16 citizen complaints have been logged and investigated. Where required, compliance inspectors issued notices for corrective action to MVP and corrective measures were taken.

"Temporary and permanent stabilization along the right of way (ROW) is ongoing. All areas of the ROW continue to have corrective actions related to routine maintenance. This includes, but isn’t limited to: compost filter sock, silt fence, sump clean outs, water bar maintenance and repair, and maintenance of clean water diversions."

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