Environmentalists battle Dominion Power, Buckingham County Supervisors over approved compression station for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Posted by: brad – Jan 09, 2017


The decision on whether to build a compressor station in Buckingham County for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been talked about for almost two years... and now it's been approved.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is a project that will carry natural gas obtained from fracking Appalachian mountains in West Virginia to the coast and along the Eastern seaboard.

The county of Buckingham, VA, population 17,000, is among the hundreds of thousands of people along the route, which includes starts in Clarksburg, WV and weaves through the Appalachia to Chatham and then to Portsmouth.

Every piece of land along this line is at risk for environmental harm.

Dominion had asked Buckingham County for a special permit to build a compressor station which they say is required for the pipeline to work properly. Dominion said the project will bring much needed funds to the impoverished rural parts of the state, but others are worried about the risks involved.

The health concerns include nosebleeds, low frequency and disruptive noises, leaks of natural gas and/or chemicals from fracking into our water supply, among others.

A map created for the Center for Efficient Government in Summer 2015 showed the nearly 3,300 incidents of crude oil and liquefied natural gas leaks or ruptures that have occurred on U.S. pipelines.

The CFEG continued:

According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, these spills and ruptures released over 7 million gallons of crude. Individual leaks ranged from a few gallons to hundreds of thousands of gallons. One of the largest spills happened in North Dakota in 2013 when lightning struck a pipeline, which leaked over 840,000 gallons of crude onto a wheat field.

These incidents have killed 80 people, injured 389 more, and cost $2.8 billion in damages. They also released toxic, polluting chemicals in local soil, waterways, and air.

Other related concerns from those against the ACP include the amount of power the oil industry has over our governmental processes and decision making. It is concerning to these citizens, and folks like myself, that instead of doing what is right for future generations, these big money interests will be listened to first.

To that effect, the Board of Supervisors met in Buckingham County on January 5th, to vote on the special permit.

The meeting lasted until almost midnight with standing-room only to provide a chance for the public to comment. Out of the people who spoke, four of them were for building the compressor station. The rest, 91, were against it.

At one point, the room broke out into song, with a rendition of “We Shall Overcome.”

The Chairman of the Board, Joe Chambers ended the song by saying, "We can not have singing here tonight. This is not a prayer service. The singing stops right here. No more songs. This is not a church service, do not make it a church service. Do you understand, everybody? Alright, This is no game."

At one point a Supervisor noted members of the public kept repeating the same thing “over and over again,” and he wanted to hear something different. That's when Laney Sullivan, a local environmentalist and member of RVA band Lobo Marino, asked the public to raise their hands to show whether they were for or against the station.

The response was overwhelmingly in her favor.

The Supervisors hastily responded by saying that there were people for it, but they just did not come to the meeting. He found these people through letters and “running into them on the street.” He then asked how many people in the room were from Buckingham County.

It was apparent that many of the people in the meeting had come from out of town, but the amount of Buckingham residents that opposed the pipeline in the meeting still appeared to outnumber the number of Buckingham residents that were for the pipeline.

After public comment wrapped up, District 2 Board Member Donnie Bryan pointed to compression stations around the Commonwealth - from Fairfax to Quantico and beyond - and said he had contacted county officials to see if any complaints or health issues had been lodged from existing stations.

"I found no significant health issues related to those compression stations," he said of his research. He also said there were no noise complaints associated with the stations either.

The vote was held and within 30 seconds the the Board of Supervisors approved the project.

Since the meeting, a group called “Friends of Buckingham County” has stated that they will proceed in discussing the possibility that the citizens were ignored and the Board chose profit over people.

They will be requesting to see the supposed letters that the Chairman said existed that the citizens have apparently written in support of the permit. Friends of Buckingham County will be meeting on Monday 1/9/17 (today) at 7pm at the Buckingham County Administration Building, 13360 W James Anderson Hwy, Buckingham, VA 23921, to discuss the behavior of the Supervisors.

Words by Drew Lucas, Top image via Friends of Buckingham County