More answers from ACP for Wintergreen

"Good afternoon," began the May 10th email from Dominion Energy's Atlantic Coast Pipeline's External Communications Manager, Susan King that went out to those who submitted questions to their May 1 broadcast via phone to Wintergreen residents.

"Thank you again for submitting your questions to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline team. The team has compiled the questions and is pleased to share answers to those with you via the attached document.

"The majority of the questions touched on the following topics:

  • construction timeline,
  • the impact of traffic on Beech Grove Road,
  • Wintergreen Drive and Fortunes Ridge Drive,
  • the restoration of the right of way upon completion of the construction,
  • community safety and the safety and ongoing maintenance of the pipeline.

"But we realize you and your neighbors may have additional questions for the team. If you have additional questions, you can share those with the team at ACPipeline@DominionEnergy.com, Ms King concluded. "Thank you again for participating in the recent Wintergreen Tele-Town Hall."

Below are the questions and answers in the categories assigned by ACP:

Alternative Routes

Why not less inhabited route or alongside major highways?

A:   This location was determined by a combination of terrain and limited crossing locations available along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Trees/Clearing

When will the trees felled earlier this year be cleared?

A:   Tree removal, along with the installation of erosion and sediment controls and general right of way preparation, will take place as soon as the project receives final approval from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

How will the felled trees be removed? How long will it take to clear and prepare the ROW?

A:   Removal of the timber requires heavy equipment, which will require final approval from VDEQ and FERC. The crews will work quickly to establish erosion and sediment controls, and the clearing will happen over a period of days or weeks for the areas on either side of Beech Grove Road.

Will the trees be cleared from Reeds Gap over the mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway?

A:   No.  One of the benefits of the HDD is that tree removal will not be necessary over the drill path.

Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD)

When will the HDD begin? How long will it take?

A:   Work will begin as soon as all necessary permits are in hand. Work will take approximately a year to complete.

Will blasting be required (for HDD)?

A:   We do not anticipate the need to conduct blasting operations to support HDD construction.

What are the chemicals, oils, lubricants used and how much is used in drilling? How do you prevent those fluids from contaminating the soil and groundwater?

A:   The drill works by using a drilling fluid (or mud) – non-toxic bentonite clay and water – which is pumped through the drill stem to power the drill head and facilitate the removal of drill cuttings.  The fluid and cuttings follow the drill stem and get flushed out at the entry and exit sites.  The drilling fluid is separated from the cuttings and recycled during the process. Any waste is captured in a cleaning system and disposed of at an approved facility off site.

What are the seasons of maximum activity?

A:   As it relates to HDD construction, activity will be fairly consistent from mobilization until the pipe installation has been completed, regardless of season or weather.  For general pipeline construction in the Wintergreen area, the peak activity will generally occur from late spring to early fall months (May-October).

What are the start and end times daily for construction?

As it relates to HDD construction, construction activities will, for the most part, be 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.

A:   As it relates to HDD construction, construction activities will, for the most part, be 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. The crews will work 12-hour shifts, usually 6am-6pm or 7am-7pm.  For general pipeline construction, work hours are generally limited to daylight hours, with the rare exception of critical activities that would need to be complete prior to stopping work for the day.

Will HDD drilling be 24-hours per day?

Yes, the drilling is a continuous activity.  Construction activities will be 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, until the drilling is complete.

How many dump trucks will be needed to and from the HDD site per day?

A:   For the drill site, we anticipate, on average, 20 trips to the site per 12-hour shift during normal operation (one trip equals an entry and an exit).  Initially, there will be more traffic hauling in equipment and materials.  After the rig is set up, daily traffic will include crew transportation, a fuel and mechanic truck,  water trucks, mud trucks (to haul the cuttings away), and straight trucks or floats delivering supplies.

What is the contingency plan for the HDD?

A:   Contingency plans would depend on the nature of the difficulties encountered during the drill process, but would include adjustments to the drill path (offsetting the entry/exit locations). In the event we are unable to complete the work using an HDD, the pipe would be installed using a much shorter (1,500 feet) Direct Pipe installation, which would cross under the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail further up the hill.

Mainline Construction: Fortune's Ridge

What does construction on Fortune’s Ridge look like? What special equipment will be used?

A:   When working on the section of pipe on the east side of Beech Grove Road, headed up Piney Ridge, we will do as much of the work as we can from the bottom of the hill.  This will minimize the amount of work that needs to happen from the top, and reduce the amount of time we will be working in that location at Fortune’s Point.  However, some of the construction will still have to happen from the top, which will require the use of winching equipment.

Will blasting be required?

While the need for targeted blasting is not yet confirmed, it is highly probable.

A:   While the need for targeted blasting is not yet confirmed, it is highly probable. The need for blasting, or lack thereof, will be determined once work has begun.

How long will construction take along Fortune’s Ridge?

A:   Primary pipeline construction efforts from Beech Grove Road to Fortunes Point will take 3-4 months. However, cleanup, slope stabilization, reclamation (seeding, mulching, etc.) will continue in spring 2019, based on the current construction plan, which is contingent upon the receipt of relevant state and federal permits.

When will we begin using Fortune’s Ridge Drive for access?

A:   We expect to start this work as soon as all necessary permits have been received.  We will communicate with nearby landowners and the Wintergreen Property Owners Association (WPOA) prior to any work taking place.

What’s the magnitude of daily traffic on Fortune’s Ridge – number of vehicles, types, daily trips, etc.?

A:   Traffic on Fortunes Ridge will wax and wane, according to the type of construction occurring at any given time. Estimated construction traffic would peak at around 35 vehicles per day (35 in, 35 out).

How deep will the pipeline be buried?

A:   The pipe is buried with a minimum depth of cover of 3 feet. 

Environmental Compliance

How will Dominion ensure compliance with applicable environmental requirements during construction?

A:  Building the pipeline safely, while minimizing impacts on landowners and the environment is our number one priority. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be built using best-in-class engineering and construction techniques. We’ve hired the most experienced, qualified contractors in the industry, all of whom share our commitment to meeting the highest standards for quality, safety and environmental protection. Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will require approximately 50 to 85 inspectors for each of the construction section. These inspectors will be onsite, every day, to ensure that we are meeting this commitment.

Why are there no silt fences in place currently? Why were trees cut, but not removed?

A:   Tree felling was authorized FERC. Additional work, which will require installation of erosion and sediment control devices and land disturbance, like timber removal, will require additional approvals from VDEQ and FERC.

How will runoff/erosion be controlled during construction?

A:   The ACP team will use erosion and sediment controls. These controls will be closely monitored and inspected throughout the duration of the project. Learn more about our environmental protections on our website: https://atlanticcoastpipeline.com/construction/environmental-protection.aspx

Where will the water come from?

A:   To minimize traffic, water has been appropriated separately on the north and south sides of the drill.  Water for the Augusta County side will be hauled from municipal and private sources.  Water for the Nelson County side will be piped from municipal water supplies to the site, or hauled from municipal and private sources.

Noise

What are the expected noise levels? HDD and mainline construction?

There is a dwelling approximately 500 from the work site where no more than 55 dBA may be present.

A:   An HDD generates normal construction noise.  The rig is a diesel hydraulic unit.  There is an excavator, pumps, and a cleaning system. FERC places noise restrictions on HDD activity based on the nearest dwelling.  There is a dwelling approximately 500 from the work site where no more than 55 dBA may be present. For comparison, 55 dBA is halfway between a refrigerator at 50 dBA and an air conditioner at 60 dBA. 

How do you ensure construction noise is below the required limits?

A:   ACP will install sound attenuation to meet or exceed the requirement. Sounds levels will be measured frequently by onsite inspectors to ensure we are meeting this requirement.

Traffic

How long do you expect construction to affect traffic?

A:   The construction activity associated with the HDD, the crossing of Beech Grove Road and construction on Fortunes Ridge, will wax and wane, but there will be some degree of activity for a year.

What can we expect in terms of traffic on Rt. 664? What haul routes will be used for the dirt, trees, etc.?

A:   For the drill site, we anticipate, on average, 20 trips to the site per 12-hour shift during normal operation (one trip equals an entry and an exit from Beech Grove Road).  Initially, there will be more traffic hauling in equipment and materials.  After the rig is set up, daily traffic will include crew transportation, fuel and mechanic truck, water trucks, mud trucks (to haul the cuttings away), and straight trucks or floats delivering supplies.

When we are working on the section of pipe on the east side of Beech Grove Road, headed up Piney Ridge, much of the work will be done from the bottom of the hill.  This will minimize the amount of work that needs to happen from the top, and reduce the amount of time we will be working in that location at Fortune’s Point.   That also reduces our use of Wintergreen Drive.

Will the 664 or Wintergreen Drive ever be closed?

A.     Rt. 664 (Beech Grove Road) will not be closed.  The pipeline will be bored under the road, and that work will be completed in 24-48 hours and will not disturb the surface of the road. Any traffic disturbances will be brief and limited to events where equipment is moved from one side of the road to the other or when large trucks hauling equipment or materials are pulling off/on 664 into the work areas.

How will the pipe be transported to the site?

A:   Each pipe section will be transported by truck.  The pipe sections are typically 40’ in length.

Will Dominion repair any damage to the roads due to construction?

A:   Yes

Will emergency access being impeded during construction, especially with heavy haul vehicles using Wintergreen Drive?

A:   The roads used to access the construction areas will never be closed.  There may be brief, periodic pauses in traffic. We will make every effort to minimize disruptions, and will not impede emergency access.

Restoration of Right-Of-Way

Is there a plan to “camouflage” the right of way at the front entrance?

A:   We work with landowners, in this case the WPOA, to develop the restoration plan, and those details are included in the final easement agreement. But generally, we replace and stabilize the topsoil, perform cleanup, and return the land as closely as possible to its original contours. We will typically apply a seeding mix that includes native grasses and clover, and the right of way is mulched with straw.

What will the property at the entrance look like after restoration?

A:   The final appearance will depend on the decisions and preferences indicated by the WPOA. However, we have created photo simulations that will provide a very good representation of how our standard restoration would appear.  These simulations were shared in an email dated 5/4/18; they are also available on our website:  https://atlanticcoastpipeline.com/media-center/default.aspx

Emergency access

What’s the plan for creating an alternate route down the mountain for an emergency?  

There is no plan to create an alternate (emergency exit) route. 

A:   There is no plan to create an alternate route.  We understand that the issue of emergency access has been a challenge for the resort for a number of years and a concern for residents. ACP will work with the WPOA and local emergency responders on a response plan and contingency planning for an event involving the pipeline.

Safety During Operation

Will there be automatic shut-off valves near Wintergreen’s entrance?

A:   Although there are no valves planned at the entrance, there will be shut-off valves with remote closure capability located approximately 9 miles north and 5.5 miles south of the site.  (Note that distance between valves is dictated by pipeline safety regulations.)

What measures are being taken to minimize the risk of explosion? 

A:   The pipeline has been designed and constructed in strict adherence with all safety requirements, as defined by the U. S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

  • Regular integrity and safety inspections are performed.
  • The pipeline is regularly patrolled and all excavations near the line are monitored as part of the damage prevention program.
  • The pipeline is included in a rigid damage prevention program that dictates periodic integrity inspections including in-line inspections (Smart-Pigging).

How quickly do the emergency shut off valves work in the event of an explosion? 

A:   These valves can normally be closed within 2-3 minutes.

What kind of emergency response plans do you have for emergencies? 

A:   Our emergency plans specify guidance for receiving notifications of, providing appropriate notifications for, identifying locations of and responding to pipeline emergencies.  The plans include detailed contact lists, emergency scenarios, reference information, and much more. These plans are reviewed with local emergency responders on a regular basis.

Operation

What will be the continuing maintenance and other requirements and how will they interfere with the community?

A:   Vegetation on the pipeline is cleared by mechanical means (brush-hogging) or handheld equipment (mowers, weed whackers, etc.) on a periodic basis.  This occurs within a specific period and on a specific frequency per FERC regulations.

•  Patrols are completed regularly.
-Aerial (monthly)
-On Foot (Annually)
-Excavation monitoring (as required)

• Cathodic Protection system inspections are regularly completed.
-Test Stations (Annually)
-Close Interval Surveys (Every 10 years)

•  In-Line Inspections (Smart-Pigging) are normally completed every 7 years.

How is the pipeline monitored for leaks?

A:   Helicopter patrols utilizing Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) technology; foot patrols with portable combustible gas indicator (CGI); and pressure monitoring at each valve site to detect any pressure loss.

Access to Gas

Will Wintergreen residents have the opportunity to receive natural gas at their homes?

A:   The natural gas delivered through the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will provide an abundant new supply for local gas distributers such as Columbia and Virginia Natural Gas.  This will enable these local providers to continue to grow their customer base and service areas.

Compensation

What does Dominion expect to provide to the WPOA and individual property owners as compensation?

A:   The compensation that is paid to the landowner is negotiated as part of the easement agreement.  As a legal real estate transaction, we treat this information as confidential.

Will WPOA receive compensation from the timber?

A:   Yes.