Pipeline

Chet Wade, left, vice president of corporate communications for Dominion Resources, and Emmett Toms, manager of state and local affairs for Dominion, answer questions Wednesday night about a natural gas pipeline that would flow through Augusta County if built. 

Those Augusta County residents who spoke to county supervisors late Wednesday after the Dominion presentation and  question and answer session, expressed doubt about what the pipeline would ulitmately mean for Augusta County.

Nancy Sorrells, the coordinator of the Augusta County Alliance, said despite Dominion's claims of a strong safety record, the possibility of disaster would always lurk with the pipeline.

"We, the citizens of Augusta County would like to point out that even a 99.9 percent record of safety on a 42-inch diameter pipeline that is 550 miles in length, and will carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas under high pressure every day is scary,'' Sorrells said. "There is a man-made weld every 40 feet. That means that every 40 feet there is the possibility of failure."

Questions about the impact of the pipeline on property values in Augusta County were given vague answers by Dominion. The company's representatives said property owners should check with the local assessor.

But a local realtor said she believes the pipeline would negatively affect property values. Charlottesvile realtor Shannon Harrington said those who are in the route of the proposed pipeline  are moving to new residences outside of the path. And Harrington said even once grass grows over a pipeline area, property owners "know it (the pipeline) is still there."

The decision to approve the pipeline will ultimately lie with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Other approvals will be needed for river crossings from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Mack said Dominion stresses safety and prevention through the company's mangement and damage prevention programs.

"Though no operator can assure or guarantee safety, these programs proactively assess the integrity of our gas pipelines through regular inspections, pigging and around-the-clock monitoring by our gas control group,'' he said. Regulation of pipelines comes from the federal government's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

 Sorrells offered credit to Augusta County Supervisors Wednesday for doggedly asking questions of Dominion representatives about the impact of the pipeline on county economic development, its location near schools and residences.

"Rest assured you are doing a lot and we appreciate it,'' Sorrells said. "And your stand and your questions here tonight prove that. You are doing what you were elected to do in a very difficult situation."

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