Pipeline plan officially submitted to Feds for approval

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Another step forward to get a massive natural gas pipeline moving hundreds of miles across the east, and into Hampton Roads.

The people who want the Atlantic Coast Pipeline formally applied to the government to build the 564-mile line. Four major U.S. energy companies, Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and AGL Resources form the group building the pipeline. It will go through North Carolina, but will branch off into Chesapeake cutting through Suffolk and Southampton Counties. It will also cut through miles of private properties.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will decide whether this pipeline is a public benefit or necessity. If they do that it will allow the pipeline partners through eminent domain to get right of ways across miles of land.

Watching the pipeline controversy closely is Suffolk landowner Chip Culpepper, “It makes me angry, and angry for my parents. I feel this is another example of an elderly couple getting abused by someone who has more power than what they have.”

Chip Culpepper’s family has been tied to the 25 acre site along Nansemond Parkway for generations. They fear the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will destroy the land’s value. Culpepper’s attorney Joe Waldo thinks Dominion Resources pipeline benefits Dominion and their corporate partners, “We know it’s great for the corporation because gas is going overseas, so it’s going to make a lot of money for the corporation.”

Dominion Resources Chet Wade shot back, “It’s absolutely untrue. More than 90 percent of the capacity of this pipeline is already signed up by companies who need to generate electricity, or in the case of Virginia Natural Gas there to heat homes and run businesses.”

Waldo says, “They try to hide it [the pipeline]. They try to get it out of sight, but the fact is, you can’t build near it or on it and you have a 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch…can you image the pressure of explosives on your property?”

10 On Your Side asked Wade about that safety issue, “Lots of people have studied this and no one has come up with anything that says that is true. I have seen 3,000 square foot homes being built right next to a pipeline transmission line.”

Chip Culpepper is not buying that, and he assumes the worst, “I think if they are going to put in a pipeline, and ruin the property, then they need to buy the whole property….the easement or right of way destroys the property.” Wade has heard that before. “We understand the concerns of individuals. We have worked and met with thousands and adjusted the route to find the best route with the least impact on the environment.”

Culpepper is clearly part of the vocal opposition not going quietly into the good night.

Pending regulatory approval, construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2016, and the pipeline is expected to be in service in the fourth quarter of 2018.

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