Residents in Chesapeake and Norfolk protesting pipeline project set for spring

A group of homeowners in Chesapeake and Norfolk spent Wednesday afternoon protesting a pipeline they say will negatively impact their health, their properties and their lifestyles.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) —  A group of homeowners in Chesapeake and Norfolk spent Wednesday afternoon protesting a pipeline they say will negatively impact their health, their properties and their lifestyles.

The group is protesting in response to a plan by Virginia National Gas to install a 24-inch pipeline near their backyards in the Georgetown, Holly Glen and Sunrise Hill neighborhoods. According to Virginia Natural gas website, the 9-mile-long Southside Connector will provide a more reliable connection between the Hampton Roads region’s two main gas supply lines.

Ethel Mitchell has lived in the Georgetown area of Chesapeake for 40 years and says she refuses to allow the pipeline in her backyard.

“I refuse to let this happen. It will take the life and soul out of such communities and we refuse, absolutely refuse to let that happen,” said Mitchell.

Alma White says the pipeline will be about 20 feet from her home and could potentially lead to health issues for her teenage daughter, who cannot walk or communicate.

“She cannot walk, she cannot tell me what she’s feeling. If they lay that pipeline in my backyard she will be smelling chemicals and chemicals cause her to have seizures. If there is a pipeline explosion, I will not be able to get her out of the house,” said White. “They offered me money to use my backyard. That’s like asking us to put a load of dynamite in my backyard.”

Virginia Natural Gas sent 10 On Your Side a statement:

Keeping our customers’ homes warm, businesses running and families safe is our highest priority. We are installing an additional nine miles of underground natural gas pipeline to the more than 5,600 miles we currently operate and maintain in city rights of way and private easements throughout the region. Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our communities. That’s why the proposed Southside Connector Distribution Project pipeline will be designed and constructed to exceed the federal regulations related to its safe operation in areas like Chesapeake and Norfolk. We have worked closely with local and state agencies to determine the best route for the pipeline. This route has the least impact to home and business owners because a majority of the pipeline is located within an existing Dominion Energy electric right-of-way and will not hinder the use of their properties in any additional way. Installing the pipeline here, in a dedicated right-of-way, provides the best environment for operating the pipeline.

The group protesting sent a petition to Virginia Natural Gas with 250 signatures and they are waiting on a response.

Construction of the pipeline in Chesapeake is expected to start in early spring.

The pipeline is scheduled to be operational in late 2018.