2018-01-17 / Letters

Karst & pipeline

Dear Editor:

Mountaineer Gas Company and TransCanada are proposing to build a pipeline under the Potomac River at Hancock and under 67 streams in Morgan and Berkeley counties. This will endanger our drinking water, our water for livestock and agriculture, and water for our manufacturers.

The West Virginia Department of Environment is considering granting the companies permission to build. The Department should deny the companies’ request. The people living in this area depend upon the Potomac River and wells and springs for their drinking water, for their livestock and irrigation, and for the purity of water for manufacturing. What could be more harmful than drilling fluid and mud running off from a construction site into ground composed of karst?

The research I have done shows that not a single gas pipeline crosses under the Potomac River between Point of Rocks, Maryland and Paw Paw. Go to the National Pipeline Mapping System. Plug in the States of Maryland and West Virginia and counties Montgomery, Frederick and Washington and Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan.

Why is there no pipeline under the Potomac between Point of Rocks and Paw Paw? Because the underlying ground is karst. No one knows what are the karst formations under the river. It has never been mapped.

What applies to the Potomac River applies equally to 67 Morgan and Berkeley county streams Mountaineer proposes to dig under and that flow into the Potomac. The 23 mile-long construction can create runoff of drilling fluids and muds that contaminate underground aquifers.

No one has put a gas pipeline under this section of the Potomac River or the streams of northern Morgan and Berkeley counties because of the dangers of drilling and laying a gas pipeline in karst rock below the surface of the earth and at inaccessible depths and at inaccessible locations under the water. Drilling mud and fluid may well escape into underground fissures, caves and waterways. What is to contain these fluids? It is too easy for a pipe to break as it passes through a karst cave unsupported by anything underneath it. How is that to be detected and contained?

What is to keep drill fluid pollutants from following around a vertically orientated pipe plunging down to an underground aquifer as it attempts to go below Sleepy Creek? Or Back Creek? Or 65 other creeks Mountaineer intends to dig under which pour into the Potomac?

Cam Trowbridge

Martinsburg

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