Public pipeline hearing draws crowds in Berkeley Springs

Public comments on the discharge of stormwater during construction activities

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Once again, the topic of conversation in West Virginia is the Mountaineer Gas Company's Eastern Panhandle Natural Gas Pipeline.

On Tuesday, residents voiced their concerns to the Department of Environmental Protections in a public comment session. Dozens of separate voices were unified as one.

"It just blows my mind that we even have to combat our own government to profess and to keep our water clean," said Berkeley County resident, Sandra Waggoner.

They're fighting for the DEP to deny the draft permit that will cover the discharge of stormwater during construction of the pipeline.

"When I looked over this permit for Mountaineer Gas I was like, I can't believe you're submitting this," said one concerned citizen.

The project by Mountaineer Gas involves installation of a nearly 23-mile long and 10-inch in diameter natural gas transmission line underneath the Potomac River.

"Local officials and of course mountaineer gas are saying, we can do it all, we can build a pipeline and we can do it in a way that protects the environment, but my concern is that they haven't said how they're going to do that," said Abigail Benjamin, representing West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

Of the multitude of concerns presented by citizens was the fear of contaminated water, killing off endangered species, potential pipeline leaks and much more.

"It doesn't have a communications plan, it doesn't have a mitigation plan, there are no boarding locks for any of the crossings on all these streams," said Upper Potomac River Keeper, Brent Walls. "None of that information is provided in this application, it is absolutely insufficient."

All comments made were documented by a court recorder and the DEP says they will respond to each of them.

The comment period is open until 8 p.m. on Friday January 19th, so if you did not attend Tuesday's meeting, you still have time to voice concerns.

For a copy of the electronic draft permit, you can contact Sharon Mullins, Division of Water & Waste Management at (304) 926-0499, ext. 1132.


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