Virginia State Police investigate bone found in pipeline path

Published: Jun. 25, 2018 at 12:16 PM EDT
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Virginia State Police are working to determine if a bone found in the the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline belonged to a human.

"This is where I found it," said Daniel Angles.

Angles went out after rain last eeek to survey a part of his Rocky Mount property, part of which is in the direct path of the pipeline.

What was his wheat field is now a Mountain Valley Pipeline easement site.

"I come out every couple days or something just to see what I can see after they quit work," he said.

What he saw was a small, round object that didn't look like anything he'd found there before.

Angles said his family has lived here for several generations and they've been finding Native American artifacts on the property for decades.

Mark Joyner, with the Association for the Study of Archaeological Properties, says he's been surveying this site for two and a half years.

"And there are thousands of pieces of pottery, stone tools, arrowheads, dating back to 15,000 years ago," Joyner said.

He said several acres of the Angles' property is registered as an archaeological site with the state Department for Historic Resources.

He came immediately to document the piece, worrying it could've come from a burial site.

"That's why we've got to get the M.E. involved to determine, is this human or is this animal," he said.

An hour later, a trooper with State Police arrives on the Angles' property and takes a look.

He calls in officers with the agency's Criminal Investigation unit, who begin their own documentation process, measuring and photographing the object.

A preliminary look by the Medical Examiner reveals the object is indeed bone, and an old one at that. Testing to determine whether it's human or animal will take several days.

Joyner and the Angles worry if the piece is human remains, the pipeline could be plowing through important Native American soils.

"As soon as that bulldozer blade hits the ground, all archaeological information is lost," Joyner said.

We reached out to the Mountain Valley Pipeline for comment. A spokesperson said in an email:

"Since the project's inception, the MVP project team has worked with landowners to understand and identify any potential cultural and historic resources along the route. In addition, the MVP cultural experts have conducted extensive surveys and have reviewed areas along the MVP route on multiple occasions. The results of these surveys were submitted and reviewed by both the FERC and the Virginia State Historic Preservation Office and both offices have concurred with and supported our findings."

When asked if MVP's cultural experts found archaeological or historical artifacts in this area during their surveys, the spokesperson responded:

"If at anytime, on any property, an artifact was found — it was documented and included in all relevant reports that are reviewed by the FERC and the SHPO."

When asked if MVP is required to have an archaeologist monitor the excavations during construction all along the route during construction, they responded: