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Augusta Residents Share Pipeline Concerns with Dominion Reps

Posted: Updated: Sep 29, 2014 10:28 PM
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Dominion's natural gas pipeline continues to be a hot topic throughout the commonwealth. Monday night, hundreds showed up to a Fishersville open house to share their concerns.

The current route sends the proposed pipeline through 47 miles of Augusta County's bucolic countryside.

“I don't want it here. I'm old-fashioned. We can go back to dirt roads and horse buggies and that would suit me just fine,” said Page Graves, who lives in Raphine.

Graves is not currently in the pipeline's path but surveyors are just getting started and he has questions about eminent domain. “I believe in the right to be able to tell the company that they can't come on my property. It's my property I bought and paid for,” Graves said.

Dominion held an open house at the Augusta Expo in Fishersville to give landowners and hundreds of Augusta County residents a chance to ask their questions.

James Norvelle, director of Dominion energy communications, says they don't have eminent domain until the federal government determines the pipeline is in the public good.

“It is a time-consuming process. It is meant to be. It should be, but we've been able to successfully negotiate 95 percent of the time,” Norvelle said.

At the other end of expo, the Augusta County Alliance held its own open house, complete with attorneys to address property rights. The alliance is opposed to the pipeline. Co-chair Nancy Sorrells says one of her biggest concerns is Augusta's karst topography. “Which is the sinkholes and the springs and the caves that create this underground Swiss cheese that we have,” Sorrells said.

Dominion environmental consultant Randy Rogers said, “There are hundreds if not thousands of miles of natural gas pipelines in karst terrain throughout the eastern U.S. that operate every day with no problem.”

Sorrells says she's also concerned about Augusta County's number one natural resource: water.

“Anything that is inserted into the ground through this fragile resource is dangerous and potentially could change and affect everybody's water quality,” Sorrells said.

“I understand that and that's why the process is so very careful of making sure that the environmental regulation and the environmental regulators at the federal, state and local are all involved,” Norvelle said.

Graves says, when it comes right down to it, he doesn't trust Dominion.

“They're very nice and they're very polite, but when you ask them a question they tap dance around it and they tell you the information that they've been programmed to tell you,” he said.

Norvelle said, “I don't know how to respond to that, but I will tell you this: Dominion has four core values - safety, ethics, excellence and one dominion. Those are from our chairman of the board.”

Norvelle says the benefit to Augusta County is cleaner air, increased tax revenue from workers eating and sleeping in the area and property tax revenue from the pipe in the ground.

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