By Geoff Hamill
The Pocahontas Times
During recent public meetings, citizens have expressed confusion about potential routes for Dominion Resource’s proposed 42-inch natural gas pipeline through Pocahontas County.
In a recent report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the company describes seven route variations through Pocahontas County. All of the routes are described in Dominion’s Resource Report 10 – Alternatives (RR-10), filed with FERC in December. The report can be found on the Web at: www.dom.com/library/domcom/pdfs/gas-transmission/atlantic-coast-pipeline/acp-shp-rr10.pdf.
Despite the large number of route variations, Dominion has stated its intent to survey just two of the routes.
The first route to be surveyed, which Dominion calls the “eastern route, is the company’s preferred route. The route is described on page 15.1.1 of the RR-10 report and passes north of Durbin and mostly north of Route 250 as it passes through Pocahontas County. High definition aerial photographs of the eastern route are available at the Atlantic Coast pipeline website at: www.dom.com/corporate/what-we-do/natural-gas/atlantic-coast-pipeline.
Dominion has provided only large-scale, multi-state maps of the other routes, which are found in the RR-10 report.
The second pipeline route, called the “western route,” currently is not planned for survey. The route is described on page 10-10 of RR-10. The western route enters Pocahontas County on Gauley Mountain north of Slaty Fork, continues southeast past Slaty Fork, generally follows U.S. Route 219, passes to the east of Marlinton, then runs in a more southerly course across Buckley Mountain, Middle Mountain and Meadow Creek Mountain, exiting West Virginia to the southwest of Lake Moomaw.
The Pocahontas Times analyzed the large-scale map of the western route in RR-10 and annotated the map with community names. The annotated map can be found at: http://pocahontastimes.com/alternate-pipeline-route-passes-marlinton-edray-slaty-fork/.
Both the eastern route and the western route are major route variations of the entire Atlantic Coast pipeline. In RR-10, Dominion identified five additional route alternatives through the Monongahela National Forest, which impact different areas of Pocahontas County.
Dominion has labeled the five National Forest route alternatives as MNF-1 through MNF-5. The company recently stated its intent to survey MNF-5.
Dominion Communication Director Jim Norvelle issued a press release on February 16, which reads:
“Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC is notifying landowners in Randolph and Pocahontas counties, W.Va., and Highland County, Va., that the company is looking at a potential alternate route for the pipeline that includes their properties. Both the alternate route and the proposed preferred route involve the Monongahela National Forest. Dominion is pursuing survey permission to determine if the alternate route is a more suitable route than the proposed preferred route. Letters seeking permission to survey were mailed to the landowners along the alternate route at the end of last week.”
MNF-5 enters Pocahontas County on Middle Mountain about five miles west of Snowshoe. The route crosses Route 219 approximately one mile east of Slaty Fork and continues across Buzzard Ridge. MNF-5 makes an eastward turn and skirts the northern slope of Cloverlick Mountain before crossing the Greenbrier River just north of Stony Bottom. The route continues eastward through Dunmore and takes a more southerly course, exiting Pocahontas County approximately 2.5 miles north of West Virginia Route 84.
IN RR-10, Dominion’s analysis dismisses MNF-5 as a preferred alternative because of the difficulty of the terrain.
A map of the other four alternate routes through the Monongahela National Forest can be found on page 10-17 of the RR-10 report.