Volunteers Report Pipeline Pollution Before There’s Permanent Damage

Failed sediment and erosion control best management practices.

WV Rivers has been busy working hard to prevent the massive pipelines crossing the state from harming our rivers and streams. Just this month we were successful in petitioning a federal court to stop stream crossings of the Mountain Valley Pipeline due to an illegal permit, and have submitted a similar petition for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

But damage is already happening. That’s why we partnered Trout Unlimited to launch a volunteer pipeline visual assessment program to identify and report water quality impacts from pipelines. You learn how to detect and report pollution from pipelines here.

In recent weeks, volunteers have helped us document and report 8 incidents from 4 major pipelines in West Virginia. WV Rivers submits these reports to the WVDEP who follow-up by sending inspectors to address the issues. In one instance, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline voluntarily stopped construction to fix the issues causing water quality impacts.

Below are a few of the reports shared by volunteers.

Grassy Run: Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Status: Resolved, violation issued.

The volunteer monitor documented a failed filter sock, a structure that helps keep sediment out of streams by filtering runoff from construction sites.  The failure of the filter sock caused muddy, sediment laden water to flow into Grassy Run, a creek in Upshur County. 

WV Rivers reported the incident to WVDEP and an inspector visited the site. Following the inspection, the construction company voluntarily stopped work to fix the issue and stop the pollution. A violation was issued following this report.

Sleepy Creek: Eastern Panhandle Pipeline

Status: Resolved, voluntarily corrected.

The volunteer monitor documented multiple erosion control failures leading to flooding and muddy water from construction site runoff.

WV Rivers reported the issues to the WVDEP and an inspector visited the site multiple times. The failed erosion control measures have been corrected.

Stony Creek: Mountain Valley Pipeline

Status: Reported

Volunteers detected multiple failed sediment control structures, including a silt fence designed to catch muddy soil and prevent it from entering the stream. After a storm, heavy mud from the construction site overwhelmed the silt fence and collapsed it.

We reported the issues to the WVDEP and are awaiting a report from them.

Lee Creek: Mountaineer XPress Pipeline

Status: Unresolved

A volunteer water quality monitor went out for routine monitoring of Lee Creek, in Cabell County, and found that the stream was muddier than normal. During her monitoring she detected high conductivity, or the streams ability to conduct electricity, a sign of sediment pollution.

We submitted this incident to WVDEP and an inspector has visited the site three times. Unfortunately, the source of the pollution has not been identified. The good news is that this site in on the WVDEP’s radar and they will continue to keep an eye on it.

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