Pipeline is ‘a dangerous, bad deal for many’

Published 2:09 pm Thursday, July 28, 2016

As a Buckingham County property owner for more than 30 years, who lives and works within .5 mile of the planned ACP pipeline and within 5 miles of the planned compressor station, I want to note some issues of concern over this compressor station and its proposed location.

This proposed ACP pipeline and compressor station location has been determined unilaterally by Dominion, without involved planning by all impacted landowners, adjacent residents or businesses in the county.

None of the Virginia property owners or adjacent residents impacted by this project will have use of any of the natural gas, as it is intended only for existing distributors at the end of the line. Those distributors already have access to a surplus of natural gas at historic low costs.

Extensive science research for more than two years on this project so far has revealed that these industrial compressor stations, operating with flammable gases under 1,440 pounds per square inch high pressure, are subject to periodic failure in compression control; failure of pipes and turbines involved in high-compression transport of natural gas; leaking of methane and volatile organic compounds; and emergency blow-downs, flame ups and dangerous explosions. No rational person would choose to build such a compressor station in their backyard, but Dominion has proposed to build a huge station in our backyard.

Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany David Carpenter, who participated as a researcher in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) fracking study, calls compressor stations, “among the worst of all the fracking infrastructure.” Carpenter notes a DEC study, which included five states where fracking is allowed, showed  more than 40 percent of air samples from compressor stations exceeded federal regulations for certain chemicals like methane, benzene and hydrogen sulfide.

In addition to our concern over excessive methane and other toxic substance emissions, we are unsatisfied with the solution provided by Dominion in the case of any major leak or explosion of any of the ACP or compressor station infrastructure. Dominion’s stated solution is to have our rural volunteer fire departments and emergency response personnel simply travel to the site (could take up to 15 minutes after an explosion) and watch the site burn or leak until the fire burns out or the leak is addressed from long distance by Dominion. This is unacceptable.

Dominion is not required to report what chemicals are released during pipeline or compressor station installation and operation. We can’t know what toxic and carcinogenic compounds could pollute our air and water. Other pipeline companies have noted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that “incineration” zones are 900 feet from pipeline and compressor stations. Everything within that zone will be obliterated if there is an explosion. The Union Hill Baptist Church, the Union Hill community and Route 56 all fall within the probable impact zone as outlined by PHMSA, the federal agency overseeing pipelines and hazardous materials in the U.S. This is unacceptable.

The final outrage about this location is the fact that existing pipelines are currently underutilized and can meet existing and future gas needs of Virginia and North Carolina by more effective use and some additional connecting pipes and storage. This whole ACP project is essentially a corporate strategy to reap high private profit by disguising itself as a public service.

This is a dangerous, bad deal for many Virginia citizens and property owners and serves only to profit the few.

Joseph Jeeva Abbate is retired and serves as day manager at Yogaville in Buckingham. His email address is jeeva@yogaville.org.