The Thrasher Group, which has been surveying areas in Nash County along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route, is not licensed to practice in North Carolina. Andrew Ritter, executive director of the state’s Board of Examiners for Engineers & Surveyors, confirmed that the firm allowed its license — No. C-4054 — to lapse in 2016.
The Thrasher Group is based in Bridgeport, WV, and has offices throughout the mid-Atlantic, including Smithfield, in Johnston County. Doug Richmond, a senior survey manager for Thrasher in its Smithfield office, initially told Policy Watch that the firm “is licensed.” After Policy Watch learned of the firm’s failure to renew, it contacted Richmond again. He said he was unaware of that the license had expired and that he would “call the corporate office.”
Although Richmond’s license is in good standing, Ritter said that Richmond can’t survey “under the corporate shield” of Thrasher.
Currently, Ritter said that Thrasher’s license is still within a 24-month window that allows the firm to pay back fees to reinstate its license. However, if Thrasher fails to do so by July 1, its license will change from “non-renewal” to “archived.” In that case, Thrasher would have to apply from scratch.
The board oversees the licenses for 25,000 individuals and 4,000 companies that practice in North Carolina.
Ironically, since Thrasher is currently unlicensed, the board can’t reprimand or fine the firm until it renews. Instead, if Thrasher continues to survey without a license, either the state Attorney General’s Office or the district attorney’s office in the counties where the firm is working would pursue the case. The board ultimately could request that a court issue an injunction against the company, Ritter said.
Board investigations of licensed surveyors and engineers are confidential. However, since Thrasher is not licensed, the details are public record.
This is at least the second time an unlicensed company has done work associated with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In 2015, the board sent a letter to Doyle Land Services, based in New Orleans, notifying the firm it had also been surveying without a license. A search of the board’s database shows that Doyle is still not licensed here.
The ACP, which just received an air quality permit — with conditions — from the NC Department of Environmental Quality yesterday, would run from West Virginia, through Virginia and eight counties in eastern North Carolina: Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson.
Therese Vick, sustainable communities campaign coordinator for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, is asking the state Attorney General’s office to investigate why Duke and Dominion, co-owners of the pipeline, are allowing the companies to do work on their behalf.
In addition, Vick said Thrasher’s licensing status “calls into question every single survey” the firm did for the ACP, “or any other company that did not have the proper credentials.”