Barbara Exum speaks at a public hearing in Rocky Mount in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Thursday night.
Drew C. Wilson | Times
By Drew C. Wilson
Times Staff Writer
Phillip Norville’s home is one of two Wilson County residences listed as being within 50 feet of the construction work area for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.
There it is in chapter four, page 374 of the 806-page final environmental impact statement issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday.
Norville is at milepost 71.6 of the more than 180 miles of natural gas pipeline planned for North Carolina. The 604-mile high-pressure transmission line will run from Lewis, West Virginia, through Virginia and end up in Robeson County.
According to the chart, Norville will be 46 feet from the edge of the construction line and 106 feet from the center line where the 36-inch diameter pipe will be buried.
“The first drawings I saw of it, it was coming right through the middle of my house,” Norville said recently. That was three years ago.”
The pipeline’s proposed route comes southward along the edge of a neighbor’s property and takes a 45-degree turn to the right, just avoiding Norville’s small brick ranch home.
The developers of the $5.6 billion pipeline, Dominion Resources and Duke Energy, aren’t interested in purchasing Norville’s property because they don’t need it.
They have asked to perform baseline tests on the freshwater well at his home in the event the well water becomes contaminated.
“They have come out and tested my well four times,” Norville said. “My water is clear. It’s good water. If they put that pipeline in and my water becomes muddy, we will know what my water was in the first place. Of course, I’m going to say the pipeline done it because it’s working fine now and they come in and put in a pipeline and my water gets muddy and stays muddy, I’m going to know somehow it’s pipeline-connected, so that’s how close I am to it. Realizing that, I know I’m pretty close to it.”
Developers also took pictures outside the house.
“They wanted to come inside my house too, but my wife wouldn’t let them. They wanted to check for cracks and stuff like that,” Norville said.
Norville is convinced that his home will lose value because the pipeline is just across the property line.
“Yeah, because I’m not getting nothing out of the pipeline,” Norville said. “Economically I’m not getting anything out of it. If they come in here and devalue my house, is the county of Wilson going to make my taxes lower? You see, with me it don’t matter that that pipeline’s out there and the gas is flowing through it. If I wanted to sell the house, yeah, it would matter. I‘m not going to get a cent out of it. Never, ever.”
Neighbors have asked him if he is concerned about the safety of being so close to the pipe once it is installed.
“I couldn’t help but be concerned about a 36-inch pipe, plus it’s going to be high pressure,” Norville said. “If I had my druthers, I’d rather it not be here, and I know they are going to do everything they can to keep it as safe as they can, because we’re taking some major money here to put this thing in, I would imagine.”
Norville asked one of the members of the crew who had come out to test his well if there was going to be any noise from the pipe.
“Am I going to hear a humming or a hissing noise or anything like that?’ Norville asked. “‘No, no, you won’t never hear that.’ This was a contractor and he didn’t know what he was talking about. Basically he was out here measuring.”
More than 12 miles of the pipeline will skirt more than 60 property owners’ lands on the western portion of Wilson County from Sims to below Buckhorn Crossroads.
Construction is scheduled to begin in Wilson County in February 2019 with a peak workforce of 885 people.
In Wilson County, travel spending according to the EIS will be $104 million and travel earnings will be $14.8 million with total travel tax receipts being $7.9 million and travel-generated employment of 80 peope.
Annual economic effects of the ACP’s operation in North Carolina will be $11.7 million with 52 jobs created. Annual individual income tax revenue to the state would be $71,838, according to the EIS.
Estimated annual property taxes in Wilson County would be $289,257 in 2019, and $494,955 in 2025. Estimated total taxes from 2018 to 2025 would be $3,150,350, the EIS states.
Governing bodies for the city of Wilson and the town of Lucama have taken no official position on the pipeline.
Release of the final EIS was a significant milestone for the project. Still needed is a water quality certification from the North Carolina Division of Water Resources as well as the FERC certificate of decision, which could come as early as Oct. 19.
On Tuesday, the Southern Environmental Law Center announced that it filed a motion on the behalf of the Sierra Club urging the North Carolina Utilities Commission to reconsider its approval of contracts that Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Piedmont Natural Gas have signed with Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC for capacity on the pipeline. The group said that the cost of the project will ultimately be passed on to energy customers.