Compressor station will impact everyone

Published 3:07 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Regarding the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project, Dominion has filed for only a “minor source” special use air emissions permit with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) because the existing air quality is so high, according to a letter from ACP LLC.

This allows the only proposed compressor station in the entire state of Virginia in Buckingham County — an industrial complex of intersecting pipelines to run 24/7 57,863-plus horsepower engines that emit methane, carbon dioxide, benzene and formaldehyde at hazardous levels without close Environmental Protection Agency inquiry or ACP purchase of latest technologies to reduce toxic emissions.

Compressor stations must routinely vent methane to stabilize volatile fracked gas or risk explosions; pipelines leak methane at hazardous levels.

Physicians for Social Responsibility and the American Medical Association have called for a moratorium on fracked gas development because new scientific studies show that methane is far more toxic than claimed by the gas companies. It is now known to be many times more toxic than Co2e — the health hazard culprit that shut down the coal industry. Fracked gas is neither “clean energy” as advertised, nor a “bridge to renewables.”

The toxic cocktail of chemical pollutants emitted as part of routine operations of this now-supersized compressor station in Buckingham will impact everyone, not just those who live next to it as most people hope who breathe a sigh of relief when it’s “not in my backyard,” or NIMBY.

Air monitors flying over compressor stations reveal high levels of these toxic pollutants for up to 100-plus miles depending on the winds.

But Buckingham will face the gravest health impacts from these hazards and their financial costs. Not Dominion or its stockholders — but individuals and families in medical costs for known respiratory, cardiac and a host of other illnesses, including depression and anxiety associated with proximity to compressor stations. Dominion plans to pass on the costs of building the compressor station to its ratepayers while limiting its liability by forming a subsidiary, ACP LLC, to shield its executives, board and stockholders from its true economic costs.

Take the opportunity to attend the public meetings required by law as part of the air permit process for a compressor station.

Keep your eyes out for announcements of upcoming Buckingham County Planning Commission and then the board of supervisors’ public meetings to make your concerns known. Please raise necessary questions for your elected officials as preventive medicine against toxic chemicals in your air, water, and soil.

If you want more information about the costs of fracked gas to individuals and communities, visit our website at friendsofbuckinghamva.org.

DR. LAKSHMI FJORD is a scholar-in-residence in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia who specializes in public health, disasters, race and disability. She is also a member of Friends of Buckingham, a group opposed to the proposed pipeline. Her email address is lakshmi.fjord@gmail.com.