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Virginia orders Mountain Valley Pipeline to stop work over water control issues

Virginia regulators ordered Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC to halt construction activities on a section of the 2-Bcf/d natural gas pipeline project, warning of "imminent and substantial adverse impact" on water quality in the area if work continues.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality found that Mountain Valley failed to provide and ensure the proper function of erosion and sediment controls according to site-specific plans on a roughly two-mile section of the project in Montgomery County, Va., according to a stop-work order issued Aug. 2. The agency issued the order after an Aug. 1 inspection.

The Department of Environmental Quality required the EQT Corp.-led project to stop ongoing clearing, grading and trenching activities in the designated area. The developer is only allowed to perform work to install and maintain erosion and sediment control devices.

The work suspension will be in effect until Mountain Valley corrects the situation and the fixes are approved by the state. "We are appalled that construction priorities and deadline pressures would ever rise above the proper and appropriate use of erosion control measures," Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor said.

EQT executives said the developer is aiming to begin service on the project in mid-2020, despite a number of setbacks that include rising project costs, fines for environmental violations, safety inquiries and revoked permits to cross the Jefferson National Forest. The project runs 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia to deliver gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to markets in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast.