The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has once again raised concerns about the impact of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). In comments filed August 21 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), DCR provided supplemental information to FERC on the ACP Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), released on July 21. The state agency said that it “continues to recommend the avoidance of all conservation sites intersected by the pipeline footprint.” The comments specifically raised concerns about the proposed construction of the ACP through certain areas of karst. Expressing serious concerns about ACP’s proposed route through Highland County, Virginia’s Valley Center area, DCR said:
extreme vigilance during and post-construction and strict adherence to the provisions of the Karst Mitigation Plan and other pollution control measures is essential to the minimization of risk during construction and operation of the pipeline in this area. DCR-DNH requests an updated Karst Survey Report from Atlantic including the areas that have not been surveyed within the pipeline footprint and continued coordination with this office.
Dominion’s own karst consultant recommended against routing the pipeline in this area for the same reasons cited by DCR. Dominion rejected the consultant’s recommendation.
The week before, the Virginia Department of Health filed comments on August 18 with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in response to DEQ’s request for comments on the FEIS on the ACP. The comments noted that the FEIS “recommends that field surveys for wells and springs within 150 feet of the construction workspace (500 feet in karst terrain) be completed prior to construction.” The Department of Health made a counter recommendation, that “a complete sanitary survey along the pipeline’s path be performed by a team of persons with expertise in geology, hydro-geology, epidemiology, and public health.” It further recommended that “a sanitary survey within at least 1,000 feet on either side of the pipeline be performed to ensure people and properties using local and regional groundwater and surface water for recreational use or human consumption are identified and protected. The sanitary survey should also include all private wells and springs identified as potential receptors as part of ACP’s Karst Mitigation Plan.”