The NC Department of Environmental Quality has rejected the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s erosion and sediment control plan, dealing yet another setback to the $5.5 billion project.
In a letter dated Sept. 26, the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources told the ACP owners it had disapproved the plan, primarily because there was so much missing information.
The ACP is co-owned by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Southeast Energy Company and Piedmont Natural Gas.
The utilities have until Oct. 11 to submit a revised plan for consideration. If they want to contest DEQ’s disapproval, they must request an administrative hearing by Nov. 25.
ACP’s plan, according to the letter, failed to provide detailed construction sequence and erosion control methods, plus measures required to protect all public and private property from construction damage. DEQ lists the shortcomings of the plan in 17 separate points over three pages.
A specific concern for DEQ is the potential damage pipeline construction would have on the Neuse River. The plan, which originally called for open trenching, has been changed to a method known as a cofferdam. A cofferdam is an enclosure placed in a river, for example, that allows the water to be pumped out. However, the Neuse River is a habitat for many threatened or at-risk species, including the Neuse River waterdog, and draining the water could kill them.
The utilities have claimed that they would try to collect any key species and relocate them — where, though, they didn’t say. But in the process of collecting and moving the species from their habitat, they acknowledged that some of them could be inadvertently killed.
In September, DEQ delayed by three months its decision on whether to grant a 401 water quality and buffer permit to the owners of the ACP. In a letter to the utilities, state environmental officials laid out in two pages myriad missing information, some of it very basic: construction drawings, erosion control plans, a calculation of cumulative impacts and stream restoration plans.