Eastern Panhandle Distribution Pipeline Project


FAQs

Natural Gas Service

Q: How do I apply for gas service?
A: The construction will take place throughout most of 2018. Later in the year, we will provide additional information on how to apply for gas service. There is no “tap fee”, however the Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) requires Mountaineer Gas provide service based on guidelines set forth by the PSC. Mountaineer installs gas service to your property line. Then it is the customer’s responsibility to have the line from there to the home or business installed. Based on your proximity to the natural gas main line, the cost to provide service to your property line will be at no cost to you or you could be required to make payment for part of the cost if it is a long distance.

Q: How was the route of the line chosen?
A: The pipeline route selection process was designed to minimize the project’s impact on the landowners, communities and the environment. In an effort to minimize the total length of the pipeline and its impact, a desktop route was initially developed to identify obvious corridors (such as locations adjacent to existing rights-of-way). Additional considerations, including topography, environmentally sensitive areas, current land use, and property boundaries, were then taken into account. Once the preliminary route was defined, field surveying to validate and make adjustments based on observed conditions (e.g. utilities, water wells, septic, etc.) began, along with discussions with landowners.

Construction

Q: Who is doing the construction?
Answer: Mountaineer Gas has hired several West Virginia companies throughout the design and construction of the project. The 2 West Virginia companies building the distribution line have done work for Mountaineer Gas for the past several years in other parts of the state. They have leased some of their equipment from leasing companies out of state.

Q: How deep will the pipeline be?
A: The pipeline will be installed a minimum 3 feet deep (to the top of the pipe), in accordance with federal, state and local regulations. However, in agricultural areas, it will typically be installed a minimum of 4 feet and will be installed deeper (and in accordance with West Virginia Division of Highways requirements) at road and stream crossings.

Q: How will farmland be repaired within the disturbed area?
A: To minimize impacts associated with crop productivity, topsoil segregation is used in all agricultural lands including row crops (conventional and no-till), tame pastures, hayfields, and other areas at the landowner’s request. The subsoil, which receives the bulk of the construction traffic, is tested and de-compacted, if required, using agricultural rippers. Topsoil segregation, and de-compaction is done on both the right of way and the construction workspace. Prior to topsoil segregation, the topsoil depth will be measured and recorded to minimize mixing topsoil with subsoil. In addition, seeding a cover crop and constructing drainage control devices, such as diversion berms, helps to control surface erosion and to maintain soil quality while promoting rapid recovery of the affected portions of the property.

Restoration

Q: How will the ground be restored following construction?
A: Any rocks or tree roots will be picked up prior to final grading of the right of way with landscaping type equipment. Finally, in non-agricultural areas, a grass seed mix, lime and fertilizer will be applied to the right of way to establish new ground cover and to minimize soil erosion. Where identified in the easement, special seed mixes will be used to promote wildlife or enhance natural vegetation. Any disturbed wetlands will typically be allowed to recover to their natural state.

Q: How will farmland be repaired within the disturbed area?
A: To minimize impacts associated with crop productivity, topsoil segregation is used in all agricultural lands including row crops (conventional and no-till), tame pastures, hayfields, and other areas at the landowner’s request. The subsoil, which receives the bulk of the construction traffic, is tested and de-compacted, if required, using agricultural rippers. Topsoil segregation, and de-compaction is done on both the right of way and the construction workspace. Prior to topsoil segregation, the topsoil depth will be measured and recorded to minimize mixing topsoil with subsoil. In addition, seeding a cover crop and constructing drainage control devices, such as diversion berms, helps to control surface erosion and to maintain soil quality while promoting rapid recovery of the affected portions of the property.

Safety

Q: What steps are taken to ensure the safety of the pipeline?
A: Mountaineer’s first priority is the safe operation and maintenance of our facilities. Along with our regular visual inspections, we monitor the pipeline using state-of-the-art technology and instrumentation. We place pipeline markers at road crossings, fence lines and other areas to clearly identify the pipeline corridor. Neighbors who live along the right of way also are encouraged to contact us if they have any questions or see or hear anything that concerns them.

Q: What is the set-back of the pipeline from buildings and how does it relate to the impact radius?
A: Distribution pipelines like this line are designed (and regulated) considering their close proximity to residential structures and populated areas. The purpose of a distribution system is to deliver gas to such users. This pipeline is designed to operate at lower pressure relative to steel pipe yield strength than a transmission line. Industry experience is that by operating distribution at lower relative pressure, if an incident were to occur, the pipeline would leak rather than rupture. Accordingly, the “impact radius” associated with Transmission lines is not relevant. Further, in order to ensure that all materials, welds, fittings, etc. are properly functioning, the line will be fully inspected and tested prior to going into service. The pipeline also will be continually monitored for leaks during its entire service life.

Q: I seem to hear about significant incidents with pipelines often. I am concerned about the safety of the pipeline in the community.
A: For the last 20 years, less than 1 “significant incident” a year occurs on West Virginia distribution systems. These incidents are typically related to older pipelines that were not installed according to today’s standards and requirements. They are often the result of third-party damage. Mountaineer is very involved with local damage prevention organizations and efforts to protect our distribution systems.

Environmental

Q: What measures does Mountaineer take to protect the environment during and after construction?
A: Mountaineer is committed to protecting environmentally sensitive areas, endangered species, and significant cultural sites. This commitment extends to all aspects of the project. Mountaineer will work with appropriate federal and state agencies to fully comply with all applicable laws and regulations. As part of the permitting process, Mountaineer will employ West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection approved best management practices throughout the project area to minimize impacts to aquatic resources.

Q: The underlying geology of Morgan and Berkeley counties contain areas of Karst geological formations that are very sensitive to surface and subsurface contamination. What are you going to do to protect these vital resources?
A: Mountaineer recognizes the importance of protecting unique and critical natural resources – whether geologic, cultural or biological. We have retained a competent and experienced engineering firm, Civil & Environmental Engineering from Bridgeport, W.Va., with expertise in geotechnical engineering, environmental and natural resource management and civil engineering to identify and address such resources. Specific to known Karst areas in only the eastern-most area of this project, we strive to avoid such areas during the routing and will engineer mitigative approaches to natural hazards and risks – both during construction and for long-term operation and maintenance.

Our Focus on Landowner Concerns

Mountaineer Gas’ recognizes the importance and value of this land to all landowners and especially to the livelihoods of local farmers. We will remain part of the community after construction and hope to partner with those that work and manage the land on a day-to-day basis.We continually strive during route development and construction to minimize the impact to the land and return it to production as soon as possible. We take into account current and future use when defining the route/easement. In addition to the purchase of the permanent easement, owners are fairly compensated for loss of crop (for 3 years), construction damages, temporary workspace and access roads.

Coordination

Mountaineer recognizes the temporary disruption that a construction project may cause. We are committed to communicating with you prior to and during construction to ensure you are aware of what and when activities will be conducted and who will be on your property.We will coordinate with the landowner to address issues of temporary fencing, relocation of livestock and access to pasture, feed and water. Although temporary roads are normally removed, if the land owner deems such as an improvement, we can entertain retaining. We will dedicate a contact person to ensure your concerns are heard and quickly addressed.

Soil Management

Mountaineer recognizes that the soil is a valuable natural resource that may have taken years to improve and cultivate. We are committed to preserving the soil during construction activities. At the start of construction, the actual depth of top soil, typically less than 16 inches will be removed, windrowed and temporarily stabilized (to prevent erosion loss). This soil will be preserved and replaced during reclamation.

Pipe Installation

Whereas a distribution line is typically buried 30 inches below surface; in active agricultural areas, depending on the depth to rock, the pipeline will be buried a minimum of 48 inches to the top of the pipe. This ensures adequate depth for deep plowing and surface activities –including the movement of farm equipment. Likewise, all large rocks removed during trench excavation will be removed, or placed at landowner’s direction. Any damaged, functioning subsurface drains will be repaired and erosion control efforts including trench plugs (to minimize trench scour) and slope breakers will be installed to minimize erosion due to rainwater runoff.

Construction Practices on Agricultural Lands

Long-term Management

As the state’s largest natural gas distribution company, serving residential, commercial and industrial customers in 49 of 55 counties, Mountaineer values the relationship with our local landowners. As part of our safety efforts, we continually monitor the flow of gas through the pipeline and will periodically complete visual and instrumented surveys. Additionally, the gas will be odorized to provide an indication if a leak were to occur, such as at a meter.We participate with WV811 to quickly locate facilities and actively participate with damage prevention organizations to educate contractors of the presence and requirements of natural gas systems. We believe the most effective safety management programs are those where we work cooperatively and openly with the landowners to address issues and concerns and to continuously monitor the right of way.Finally, we hope that in addition to being a partner in land management, that the landowner will also become a customer that we can serve and provide with clean burning, low-cost natural gas.

Mountaineer is focused on the safe and reliable operation of our natural gas distribution network. A significant element of this focus is stringent property protection efforts as well as participation in a notification and location service (e.g., WV811). Typical farming activities with standard farm equipment can safely occur over and across the pipeline easement. If at some point, specialized equipment is used –that would cause deep rutting, Mountaineer requests prior notification so that appropriate arrangements can be made –such as line marking, depth verification, padding, etc.

Mountaineer’s goal is to return the land to normal, productive agricultural activity as soon as possible. When construction is complete, the permanent easement and any temporary work spaces will be restored as closely as possible to pre-construction conditions.