Pipeline opponents urge regulators to expand stop work order

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline say a recent stop work order in Montgomery County should be extended to the entire project.

Last week, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality halted work on a two-mile section, because it lacked appropriate erosion and sediment controls.

During a news conference Tuesday in Roanoke, a coalition of groups said they have documented similar problems in many different locations.

Russell Chisholm is Co-Chair of the POWHR Coalition.

"We're expected to take their word for what's happening out there along the route, that things are going to be okay, when that's simply not true," Chisholm told WDBJ7. "And until we know that they can do that, they should shut the whole thing down."

The POWHR Coalition is also asking landowners and other interested people to join the Mountain Valley Watch program to help document problems with erosion and sediment control.

On Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline released the following statement:

"On Friday, August 2, 2019, forward-construction work was stopped along an approximate two-mile section of the MVP route in Montgomery County, Virginia, due to concerns and an incident regarding erosion and sediment control measures. The MVP project team reported issues related to sedimentation control to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) and inspectors conducted an investigation, which led to the stop of forward-construction progress, at the order of the VADEQ, in order to focus efforts on environmental controls."

"We value the safety of our employees, contractors, and every person that lives in these communities; and one of our primary goals remains the preservation and protection of the environment. These commitments are made by MVP; therefore, it is MVP’s responsibility to the public to hold its contractors to the highest standards and to be accountable for their actions and decisions at all times. MVP demands a high level of performance from its contractors and we have planned for a high level of external oversight and monitoring during the construction process. As it relates to the erosion and sediment control incident that occurred along this section of MVP's right-of-way, MVP changed the sequence of its work to address a potentially escalating environmental issue in another location on its right-of-way. While the resequencing was well-intended, there were misjudgments about the overall environmental risk in the area that contributed to the incident and for this there is no excuse."

"The processes, as designed, are intended to implement and monitor environmental protection measures every step of the way. The permitting process provides the conditions under which the pipeline must be built in order to protect the environment. The construction process includes very stringent monitoring by FERC officials, state and local agencies, and MVP personnel to continually evaluate each of the permitted requirements. In this case, the work failed to meet our expectations, and more importantly, the expectations of our regulatory agencies and our other stakeholders. As we proceed through the construction phase, we appreciate the assistance and oversight of the inspectors from the VADEQ, and we will continue working closely with them to ensure the MVP construction crews are conducting their work to the highest standard possible."