Students follow pipeline trail to highlight concerns

Members of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition pose for a photo during their tour of the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County on Friday, May 20.

Approximately 20 students from the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, Virginia Tech, Mary Washington College, and the University of Virginia followed the trail of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline last month and concluded their tour with a stop in Chatham on Friday, May 20.

The group met for breakfast at Kim’s Kitchen, where they listened to a presentation by Mark Joyner, Pittsylvania County Historical Society board member, and Buddy Hearn, Preserving Our Indian National Treasures president.

Carolyn Reilly, community organizer of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and a founding member of Preserve Franklin, and Ann Rogers of Franklin County joined the students for the presentation.

After the presentation, students were taken on a tour of the county that featured a stop at the compressor station located off Transco Road and other points of interest throughout the White Oak Mountain Wildlife Management Preserve.

“They toured parts of the actual pipeline to witness firsthand the type of environmental damage caused by the building of the pipeline. They looked at the erosion along the path, saw defoliated areas of the easement, and the damage caused to our creeks and rivers here in the county. They were shown one of the creeks where the Transco Pipeline was washed out and exposed to debris along with the repair ordered by the Army Corp of Engineers,” Joyner said, adding that the group concluded its tour around 3 p.m. and returned to Montgomery County to analyze the data they had collected during the tour.

“The reason for the presentation and tour of the existing Transco pipeline is to show the students the level of environmental, archaeological, and architectural damages to an area’s valued resources,” Joyner said. “In Franklin County alone, the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline will cross 177 creeks, streams, and rivers. This is the lifeline for Franklin County. These waterways supply water to most of the farms, wells, and towns’ drinking water.

In Pittsylvania County, Mountain Valley Pipeline archaeological contractors found over 1,017 archaeological or architectural sites including cemeteries, marked and unmarked, that are in the path of the proposed pipeline. Out of the 1,017 sites, they only determined that 443 of these sites are eligible for the National Historic Register which would protect them. The rest of the sites will be destroyed including churches, homes, cemeteries, and Native American sites.”

Joyner stressed the importance of preemptive consideration of the value of these sites before they are affected by the proposed pipeline.

“These resources can never be regained once destroyed. That is why all the counties in West Virginia and Virginia are fighting the installation of this new gas pipeline,” Joyner said.

More information about the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition is available online at www.vsecoalition.org.

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