Groups plan pipeline sessions

ELKINS – The WV Wilderness Lovers and the Wetzel County Action Group will spend Thursday educating local residents about a proposed pipeline that will wind through the Mountain State, including much of Central West Virginia.

The groups will meet with the Randolph County Commission at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Commission chambers and will host a public meeting at 6 p.m. at the Durbin Fire Hall in Pocahontas County.

“Our goal is to further educate the public and the elected officials on the facts involved with this proposed pipeline idea,” said Lauren Ragland, spokesman for the WV Wilderness Lovers.

“There’s a lot more to the proposed pipeline than just the word pipeline. People have the right to know what could happen in our area. They just drew a line across the map, and we happen to be in that line.”

The proposed pipeline is part of Dominion Resources’ Southeast Reliability Project. It would funnel natural gas supplies from the Upper Ohio Valley to North Carolina to meet increased demand, officials said.

Rangland and company, though, want to educate the public about the ill affects of the project, not the least of which is the pipeline’s environmental impact.

One of the primary concerns, Ragland says, is the project’s impact on the health of those around the pipeline.

“The No. 1 concern is health,” she said. “The WHO (World Health Organization), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the EPA know the dangers of the compression stations. These compression stations would have to be every 10 to 40 miles apart. So, from Mill Creek to Durbin, there would be two to three and from then on two to three past Durbin. These stations emit toxic fumes that come out of valve meter stations. These stations run 24-hours-a-day.”

“The compression stations are the No. 1 concern,” Ragland added. “It’s not about tourism. It’s our health. These are facts. It’s a fact they give off horrible fumes.”

According to the WV Wilderness Lovers Facebook page, other negatives include:

The locations of liquid separators.

Helicopters inspecting 500 miles of pipeline every two days.

The destruction of river beds.

Extreme noise pollution from the ever-running compression stations.

And the fact the transmission pipelines will be 42 inches in diameter.

That alone, Ragland says, is a major factor.

“When people think of pipelines, they think of the Alaska or Keystone pipelines,” Ragland said. “They are not the same size, though. This one will be bigger. Those are mostly going through the plains, and those compression stations are 100 to 150 miles apart. Because of the mountainous terrain, these will be every 10 to 40 miles apart. The gas will move through these very, very fast. It will make so much sound, it will basically be an industrial situation.”

“The fumes that will be generated will create a lower ozone situation, and the fumes will stay in the lower valleys where everybody lives,” Ragland added. “The horrible health affects and noise will basically destroy everyone’s quality of life.”

Proponents of the pipeline tout the economic impact the project will have for the Mountain State; however, Ragland says there actually will be very little benefit.

“There is no lasting value for the community,” Ragland said. “They (Dominion) already have said the jobs will be going to those out-of-state. The people they will be hiring need 3 to 5 years experience welding pipeline. And, local companies are unlikely to benefit because of the risk, amount of equipment and amount of insurance needed to work on the project.”

Through WV Wilderness Lovers and the Wetzel County Action Group’s educational efforts, Ragland says many people – including those outside the state – are joining their cause.

“What Ed (Wade Jr.) and I have been doing, was not in their (Dominion’s) plan,” Ragland said. “People know now.”

WV Wilderness Lovers can be found on Facebook at WV Wilderness Lovers vs. Proposed Pipelines and on Google+ Blogs at FERC-101.