Pipeline construction halted in Virginia amid severe erosion

Published: May. 21, 2018 at 4:46 PM EDT
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Following heavy rains, construction at a Mountain Valley Pipeline site in Virginia has been suspended until erosion control measures are established.

The Roanoke Times reports the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is investigating how dams and other measures failed to stop last week's rains from sweeping away soil unearthed by heavy equipment in Franklin County. Both lanes of Cahas Mountain Road were covered by up to 8 inches of mud.

Department spokeswoman Ann Regn called the mudflow "clearly unacceptable." She says the pipeline's concrete barriers had "completely disappeared."

Pipeline spokeswoman Natalie Cox asserted the controls were installed properly but were affected by "unusual circumstances."

Nearby homeowners were very concerned, however, and told WHSV's sister station, WDBJ7, that they had been concerned about erosion ever since hearing that the pipeline right-of-way would cross their property.

"Myself and others have been trying to tell people for months and years what was going to happen," Wendell Flora told WDBJ7, "and this is proof positive."

Wendell's brother, Charles Flora, agreed. and said he believes others along the path of the pipeline are likely to experience the same thing.

"Surely, they are going to have similar problems if they have steep terrain," he said.

State regulators and the company say the mudflow didn't reach streams.

The 300-mile (483-kilometer) pipeline was cited for erosion control problems in West Virginia last month.

Below is Mountain Valley Pipeline's full statement:

"On May 18, 2018, an inspector notified the MVP project team that a slip occurred on the right-of-way adjacent to Cahas Mountain Road. About six to eight inches of mud blocked both lanes of the road, but no streams or wetlands were impacted. Unusually heavy rainfall overnight contributed to turbidity in a nearby stream, which is apparent from the water conditions upstream from the right-of-way and site of the slip." "Initial reviews indicate the controls were installed properly; however, the circumstances appear unusual and an ultimate cause is under investigation. Upon learning of the issue, MVP crews promptly began remediation activities. The project team remains committed to the safe and responsible construction of this important underground infrastructure project."