Suzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nDominion Energy representatives and others involved in the planning and construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline met with first responders and members of the Pocahontas County Local Emergency Planning Committee last Wednesday to discuss safety and contingency plans for the pipeline construction process.\r\n\r\nThe pipeline, which is mapped to come through Pocahontas County, will be constructed in spreads, or sections, beginning in 2018 and continuing into 2019.\r\n\r\n\u201cEach spread is really self-sufficient,\u201d Carla Picard, Dominion Energy external affairs manager, said. \u201cThey have their own dedicated crews and site superintendent. They have site specific safety and security plans. The work will happen from start to finish within that spread using that one team, basically.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe project begins in West Virginia, travels into Virginia and ends in North Carolina.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have a compressor station at the top that is going to help move the gas through the pipeline,\u201d Picard said. \u201cThere are a total of three compressor stations along the path \u2013 one in Lewis County [West Virginia], one in the center of Virginia in Buckingham County and then one right at the North Carolina state line in Northampton County. Those compressor stations help move the gas along the pipeline six hundred miles.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia will be 42-inches in diameter it will \u201cneck down\u201d to 32-inches in diameter in North Carolina.\r\n\r\nIn working with the pipeline \u2013 from manufacturing the pipe, to placing the pipe and monitoring the gas flow \u2013 Dominion is held to the highest standards by every agency. Each step in manufacturing the pipeline is scrutinized by the Pipeline Safety Administration.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019m very confident in our ability to pass all their inspections,\u201d Ben Waldron, Dominion Energy Transmission engineer of pipeline integrity said. \r\n\r\n\u201cI personally visited the pipe mill in Pennsylvania and these guys are really good at what they do. They\u2019ve got a lot of experts and the pipe is inspected through the entire process from the time that the pipe is bent into shape from a steel plate. It\u2019s all done in a very technically good way. All the welds done at the mill are tested one hundred percent through non-disruptive testing methods. They perform x-ray or radiographic testing on welds and the long seams are tested by way of ultrasonic testing. This is state-of-the-art technology that they are using to do this.\u201d\r\n\r\nAfter the pipeline is constructed and operational, Dominion uses what is called a Smart Pig which is placed inside the pipe and monitors the stability of the pipe and the gas.\r\n\r\n\u201cDominion is going to be installing receivers all through the pipeline so that on a regular interval \u2013 every seven years, as required \u2013 we\u2019re going to be putting one of those through there,\u201d Waldon said. \u201cIt\u2019s got some neat technology that uses very strong magnets that are aligned and it looks for metal loss or deformities or anomalies. It can tell you a predicted expected life for that pipe so you can monitor the health of the pipe as you maintain operation of the facility.\u201d\r\n\r\nSafety Lead for ACP Construction Billy Mercer, who has worked on pipelines for decades, including the Alaskan and Keystone pipe-line, said that a 42-inch pipeline has been installed in terrain similar to that of Pocahontas County and he is confident in the integrity of the line.\r\n\r\nAs part of the safety committee, Mercer said the plan for the pipeline is thorough and said the spread method will operate under site specific safety plans.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou hear us talking about spreads,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s a manageable construction block that a group is going to build. When they build a spread, geographically, they can be anywhere from fifteen miles to one hundred, twenty-five miles, sometimes more. A spread could have as many as seven-to-eight hundred people working on it. A pipeline has seven or eight spreads in a year. That\u2019s a lot.\r\n\r\n\u201cEach spread is going to have its own site specific safety plan because safety hazards for spread one may not be safety hazards on spread five,\u201d he continued. \u201cThis is the plan that governs their work. It\u2019s going to list all the emergency aid, fire departments, EMS, law enforcement, hospitals, what the capabilities are, how do we summon help - that\u2019s a challenge.\u201d\r\n\r\nAfter the pipeline is constructed, the monitoring continues with employees doing periodic \u2013 on the ground and in the air \u2013 checks.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have all sorts of rules and regulations that we\u2019re required to follow, but the truth of the matter is, as an operator, we\u2019re not interested in having any issues,\u201d Phyllis Hinterer, Dominion Energy Transmission director for area operations said. \u201cWe just don\u2019t want, don\u2019t need them, and we do this right. There should be no reason that you would have them.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe walk with boots on the ground once a year, at least, and we do activities,\u201d she continued. \u201cWe fly all of our facilities on a monthly basis in a fixed wing aircraft and then quarterly, we put gas detection equipment in the plane so if there is any small leak for any reason, we should pick that up. We have emergency plans for our employees and for our facilities.\u201d\r\n\r\nWednesday night\u2019s LEPC meeting was just the beginning of conversations and coordination between Dominion and first responders and emergency personnel in this county as the project moves forward.\r\n\r\nThe proposed pipeline timeline is as follows: FERC Final EIS [Environmental Impact Study] finished by July 2017; FERC\u2008Certification, fall 2017; pre-construction public open house events, late fall 2017; construction, 2017-2019; and in service by late 2019.