Limpert: Mountain Valley Pipeline reassures by minimizing catastrophic safety risk | Columnists

Guillaume Limpert

Roanoke Times reporter Laurence Hammack’s article (“Pipes Sit Outside as Construction Delayed,” Sept. 3) regarding the significant threat to public safety from the Mountain Valley Pipeline highlights the fear and danger that people living nearby will endure every day if the project is completed. MVP has been reckless with his conduct, and federal regulatory agencies have been left wanting in their failure to protect nearby residents.

A major pipeline accident occurs on average once every 5.6 days in our country.

An MVP explosion would be catastrophic. It would eclipse the horrific San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people, injured 60, left a crater 72 feet long and 26 feet wide, threw a 3,000-pound pipe segment 100 feet from the crater and had a reported fireball 1,000 feet high.

It was a 30 inch pipe, with a maximum working pressure of 400 pounds per square inch.

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The MVP is a 42 inch hose with a maximum operating pressure of 1,400 pounds per square inch.

The impact radius, or blast zone, of an MVP explosion is 1,100 feet. This is the distance from the explosion where death or serious injury is likely. The area of ​​the MVP blast area is almost four times larger than the San Bruno Pipeline blast area.

The MVP evacuation zone, where an escape in minutes is required to avoid death or serious injury, is 1.4 miles wide. The total evacuation zone for the 303-mile MVP is approximately 242 square miles, or about one-third the size of Rhode Island. This is a large number of our fellow citizens in danger.

MVP is well aware of the danger of leaving a pipe exposed. They used this issue in court to “quickly take” property from 300 landowners, then let the pipe degrade for nearly five years without adequately protecting it. MVP’s comment that safety is their top priority rings hollow given this dismal record. Who knows how long the pipe will continue to deteriorate with the project stalled?

The MVP pipe already in the ground is also suspect. A large amount of pipes in the ground have been left without cathodic protection for more than two years, leaving them prone to corrosion.

MVP’s misleading statement that the pipe will be inspected and repaired as needed also rings hollow. The “holiday” detector they say they use will not detect the flexibility of the faulty coating or the absorption of corrosion-causing chemicals. These are coating defects that are also caused by leaving the pipe exposed. A pipeline expert advises that if the coating is not flexible, it will not stand a chance during bending of the pipes or other stresses on the pipes. The presence of chlorides and other corrosive substances in the coating would also indicate that it is unacceptable.

MVP once again misleads the public by saying that any damaged coatings or thin spots will be repaired before the pipe is installed. It is not so easy. Expert Richard Kuprewicz’s statement that the pipe must be in disrepair indicates that field repair is not sufficient to ensure public safety. Damaged pipes, in the ground or on the surface, should be discarded or returned to the factory for repair.

There is no doubt that further testing is needed to reduce the significant threat to public safety. The tests should study the loss of flexibility of the coating, the absorption of contaminants, the adhesion of the coating to the pipe, as well as the testing of holes and the thickness of the coating.

Each of the MVP’s 40,000 pipes can be dangerous and a weak link in what is essentially a 303-mile underground bomb.

Landslides are another MVP public safety issue. A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission document from Jan. 4 said 79 landslides required traveling to private property in an attempt to stop them. Other landslides that remained in the right-of-way have not been identified. A landslide forced two families to flee their homes. Yet another moved the pipe. These landslides are continuing, despite no direct hit from a tropical storm…yet.

A bad hose is dangerous. Landslides are dangerous. Bad tip plus landslides is a disaster on the doorstep of our fellow citizens, whose safety and well-being are sacrificed to increase corporate profits.

I was reminded of the threat and emotional trauma of MVP when a mother asked how she could put her kids to bed at night with that pipeline there. I had no answer for her.

Apparently neither does the MVP.

Limpert, a Smithsburg, Md. resident who retired from the Maryland Department of the Environment, once owned property and a home in Bath County that he learned in 2016 were in the path of the proposed Atlantic coast pipeline. After four years of contesting the pipeline, he and his wife sold the property to ACP. Within 100 days of the sale, the CPA was voided.

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