MVP Forced to Stop Work at Cove Hollow in Virginia

by Duane Nichols on December 7, 2018

Cove Hollow has become a Pond after MVP ‘s mucking around

MVP Forced to Stop Work at Cove Hollow — Rubber Duckies Declare Victory

From an Article of Mountain Valley Watch, December 6, 2018

Elliston, VA– On December 4, 2018, a flock of rubber ducks declared victory as Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) closed up shop at Cove Hollow Road in Elliston, Virginia. MVP began work at this site four weeks ago but was unable to proceed when they exposed several underground springs while trying to bore under US Route 460 and the railroad tracks. MVP dewatered the site multiple times but the new “Cove Hollow Pond,” as residents dubbed it, quickly refilled each time. Angry rubber ducks had repeatedly flocked to the site, emblazoned with their messages of: “MVP is all wet,” “Save our Water,” and “Duck you, MVP.”

Crystal Mello, one of a team of citizen observers that has been monitoring construction in eastern Montgomery County, made repeated calls to John McCutcheon of the VIRGINIA Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). McCutcheon told Mello that the “equilibrium” within the groundwater and geology would return to normal after dewatering. Mello responded at the State Water Control Board (SWCB) on November 28 by saying: “I’m a cleaning lady. I’m not a scientist, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a professor, but I know that does not make sense. And for three weeks and five days water has continued to flow into this pond.” On December 3, Mello spoke by phone with McCutcheon who acknowledged that MVP is abandoning plans at this site and would return to it in the Spring when it is “less wet.”

Attorney Tammy Belinsky scoffed at the DEQ’s response. “MVP and the permitting agencies were told time and time again that the unique geology of the Appalachian region is a safety threat. They were told that the route is saturated with groundwater. Yet they ignored the experts and refused to perform risk assessments. The so-called mitigation plans that purportedly would get them out of this predicament are worth less than the paper they were printed on. Less wet in the springtime? Not a chance. On top of our ordinarily wet springs, the El Nino is with us this winter. MVP would have been better off consulting an astrologist.”

Chris DiGiulio, a chemist and biologist from Chester County, Penn., who has documented and reported multiple violations by Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) as they try to construct the Mariner 2 pipeline was encouraged by this news. “Construction activity here has punctured aquifers, created sinkholes and contaminated water for years. As a scientist with ample experience in field work and an understanding that the science behind this process must be evidence-based, I have watched permit after permit being approved without complete science being performed. Our regulators are complicit with industry and we’ve exposed their corruption and complacency. The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Sunoco/ETP over 13 million dollars and there are over 80 permit violations issued. We see this in West Virginia, Virginia, Louisiana–everywhere that industry thinks that their blood money is worth more than science.”

Tina Badger, a resident of Elliston who has documented the damage on a daily basis, is frustrated that she’s had to do the DEQ’s work for them. “It’s unacceptable that citizens have had to be late for work or even miss work, give up time with their families and pretty much just put their lives on hold to make sure our citizens are staying safe and our water quality is not being destroyed. All because DEQ is not doing their job. And this is just what we can get to–what’s happening on all these steep slopes where we cannot even see?” Badger also questioned why work had occurred at the site at all, given that MVP’s maps clearly mark the area as a wetlands and the company currently has no permit to cross waterbodies.

This type of work stoppage has become common for the MVP, as the pipeline has been met with resistance from people working tirelessly to expose the dangers of the pipeline and halt the project for good. This most recent event comes amidst a wave of losses for the MVP as they face lawsuits, revoked permits, plummeting stock, and repeated human blockades that have prevented them from uninterrupted work. This particular construction site at Cove Hollow is less than a mile away from two tree sitters who have successfully prevented illegitimate tree cutting for months, effectively stopping work in that location.

Lauren Bowman, a resident of Montgomery county who grew up in the area, and who spent 38 days occupying a tree sit blockade on Yellow Finch Road, stated, “Public pressure, including comments at the State Water Control Board meeting and daily monitoring by residents, contributed to this outcome. MVP’s defeat at Cove Hollow further exemplifies the need for citizen action because inadequate state and federal regulatory agencies are not protecting people, water, or air quality. Let this blatant example of MVP’s incompetence motivate us to do what is necessary – protect ourselves, because the government won’t! Now we need a stop work order for the entire line.”

Rubber ducks are stressed to understand MVP

The ducks begrudgingly shared some of the credit for the work stoppage with citizens who kept the spotlight on the site as it created dangerous conditions for travelers on US Route 460 and Cove Hollow Road as well as for MVP personnel. The rubber ducky brigade announced plans to meet Tina Badger and other local residents at 8am on Friday morning at the now filled-in pond to say their final good-byes. The media is invited to attend.

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