Workers asked to stay in area during stoppage


BUCKHANNON — The lead developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said transient workers from out-of-state have been encouraged to remain in Upshur County and on standby, despite federal officials having ordered construction on the project to cease.

Dominion Energy spokeswoman Samantha Norris said Tuesday both Dominion employees and the energy company’s contractors have been urged to stay in the state while Dominion works to resolve a Stop Work Order, or SWO, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Friday.

“During this Stop Work Order … contractors have been encouraged to stay in the area and be ready to return to work at a moment’s notice,” Norris said. “The local community should not see a significant impact to local businesses as long as the SWO is not unreasonably extended. We are confident these issues can be resolved quickly without causing unnecessary delay to the project.”

The stop order was delivered to Dominion after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated two crucial permits last week. One of those permits had been granted through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was designed to protect threatened or endangered species, while the second was a right-of-way permit that would have allowed the 42-inch-wide natural gas pipeline to pass beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Norris said Dominion is working fervently to regain permission to build.

“We are working closely with key agencies to resolve the issues in FERC’s order so we can resume construction as soon as possible,” she said.

Mike Cozad, a local community liaison with ACP — a joint venture between Dominion, Duke Energy, Southern Company Gas and Piedmont Natural Gas — said the 400-some Upshur County workers who have been impacted by the work stoppage are still being compensated.

“Everybody has been instructed to stay here and go to the work site and sign in for the day and then go home,” Cozad said. “They’re still here, and they’re still being paid.”

Cozad said he can’t predict when construction could resume — “that would require a crystal ball,” he said — but noted the company is optimistic that it will be sooner rather than later.

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