The proposed 550-mile pipeline, currently named the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, would move shale gas from western West Virginia to eastern Virginia and North Carolina. Dominion Resources and Duke Energy are the principal partners.
The proposed route would cross the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountain and valley region of western Virginia. Within this area It would cross about 50 miles of National Forest and numerous rivers, streams, wetlands, and karst areas. The route targets some of the best remaining wild landscape and high-quality water resources in the eastern U.S. Many of the region’s best trout streams would be crossed, including the headwaters of multiple major river systems.
The pipeline will be 42-inches in diameter requiring an 8 to 12 foot-deep excavation, a minimum 125-foot-wide construction corridor and a 75-foot permanently cleared right-of-way. It will require construction of heavy-duty transport roads and “lay-down” yards for delivery and staging of 40-foot pipe sections and large equipment. It will require forest clearing, surface scraping and compaction, blasting through bedrock, and excavation through or under streams, wetlands, and riparian groundwater. It will require construction over unstable karst features, including sinkhole fields and sinking streams.
Pipeline construction on this scale is apparently unprecedented in this type of steep forested mountain landscape with intervening streams and karst valleys. It will be extremely difficult or impossible to avoid degradation of aquatic habitat and hydrologic disruption, including heavy sedimentation of streams, alteration of runoff patterns and stream channels, disturbance of groundwater flow, and damage to springs and water supplies.