Over 800 Workers Could Build Pipeline Regionally 

Published 4:58 pm Thursday, June 4, 2015

BUCKINGHAM — Area counties impacted by the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) could see over 800 construction workers file in between January and December 2017 if the project is approved.

According to a draft resource report filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by Dominion, the lead partner of the ACP, the workforce is estimated to peak at 885 people in the region of Nelson, Buckingham, Prince Edward, Cumberland, and Nottoway counties.

“…That would be [the] maximum expected number of workers in that area at the peak of construction,” said Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle.

“…We want to see a sustainable future here and that obviously does require work,” said Kenda Hanuman, a spokeswoman for Friends of Buckingham, a group opposed to the project. “What we are hearing from these other areas that have had the same experience is that during construction there is added labor and it’s generally journeymen from out of state…”

Norvelle said that out of the 800-some people, contractors “would bring in half the workforce, and they would find the other half from the region,” alluding that residents of the counties impacted could potentially work on the 550-mile natural gas pipeline locally.

He said that the construction of the project, if approved, should take about two years, from the fall of 2016 to the fall of 2018.

“You will not have construction activity going on all at one time over the entire length of the pipeline,” Norvelle said, noting that construction workers would move along the route depending on their trades.

There could be a rise and fall in the workforce, depending on what type of work is going on, Norvelle said.

According to the draft report, construction of the compressor station—which is now proposed to have four turbines totaling over 40,000 horsepower—would begin in April 2017 and conclude in November of 2018.

“In between December and now, we have determined that…we needed to add some compression…Instead of there being three turbines, there will be four.” The new one is smaller than the others, Norvelle said.

Dominion previously estimated the gas-fired station to have only three turbines with an estimated 31,515 horsepower.

While looking at the entire need of the ACP, Norvelle stated, it was determined that “we had to push the gas a little further down into North Carolina…This additional compressor at Buckingham will do that job.”

Regarding the proposed increase of the station, Hanuman said the greatest concern the opposition group was the potential of Dominion adding additional compressor stations along the route, along with the enormity of the facility.

“I really want people to understand that we know we’re not getting the information,” she said, “But this is critical information, because of the amount of destruction these things do, how they affect communities, how they affect health, property values, that’s a big concern.”

Norvelle said that regardless of the change in horsepower, air and noise standards would still have to be met.

According to FERC, the noise attributable to a new compressor station must not exceed a day-night average noise level of 55 decibels at any pre-existing noise-sensitive areas such as homes, schools, or hospitals.

The peak construction workforce at the compressor station would be about 75 people, cites the report.

“You’re building a building,” Norvelle said of the station and its workers.

As for permanent jobs at the compressor station, he said  that there would be seven full-time positions.

Regarding the compressor station, a monthly ACP project status report filed with the FERC states that a “purchase option agreement is being negotiated. [A] civil survey will be completed when the purchase agreement is signed.”

“I’m not going to be able to elaborate until the documents are signed,” Norvelle said when asked about the specific location of the proposed compressor station. “We still have…two sites we’re looking at. We’re trying to come to terms with one of them. That’s all I’ll say right now.”

He confirmed that Dominion was looking in the vicinity of where the proposed pipeline would intersect with the existing Transcontinental Pipeline, which lies just north of Route 56, northwest of Union Hill Road, southeast of Shelton Store Road, and southwest of Ripley Creek.

“…You look for large parcels of property, because you’re only going to use about five to 10 acres to build a compressor station, but you have a buffer…so that the nearest house will be far enough away that you’re not going to be in violation of the noise standard,” Norvelle said.

A majority of the area surrounding the proposed intersection is forestland, according to aerial maps. Several residences lie along both Shelton Store and Union Hill roads, along with Route 56, which could border the station.

He said that the resource reports, which are drafts, would be final when ACP files the formal application this summer with FERC.