multiple metal pipe ends in a row with the text "Header Improvement Project" with the word improvement replaced by the word injustice

What is the Header Injustice Project?

Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) calls it their “Header Improvement Project” — a horribly misleading misnomer. CCAN calls it the “Header Injustice Project,” and it’s the next big pipeline fight in Virginia. 

The proposal is for three new gas pipelines, totaling 24 miles, and three new or expanded gas compressor stations from Northern Virginia, through the middle of the state, and to the shore in Hampton Roads. Key components of the project would run through majority-minority communities, bringing environmental racism criticisms to the fore. VNG wants this network of fracked-gas infrastructure to be up and running by the end of 2022.

VNG wants this network of fracked gas infrastructure to be up & running by the end of 2022. CCAN and other members of the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) Coalition are fighting at each deadline to stop VNG from poisoning Virginians. Read on to learn how the Header Injustice Project would harm the health of your community and how you can stop it with us.

UPDATE:

On June 26, 2020, the Virginia State Corporation Commission issued a preliminary ruling against the Header Injustice ProjectUnder the terms of the decision, VNG may re-apply for a permit but must comply with certain conditions that could prove extremely difficult to meet. If VNG can show by December 31, 2020, that its main customer — the 1050-megawatt C4GT gas plant — has the financing it needs to build, VNG must also submit information about needed environmental justice analyses and confirm that it will protect VNG’s customers from unnecessary rate increases.

The second condition related to cost protections might prove especially challenging for VNG to meet. To shield VNG’s customers from “holding the bag” for the costs of the project should the gas plant cease operation, the Commission is requiring that the capital cost of the project must be recovered over 20 years instead of the 70 years proposed. VNG’s own rebuttal testimony recognized that “[t]here is a very real risk that if the entire cost of the Project is required to be amortized over 20 years that the Project will be cost prohibitive and not be completed.” 

This is a great first step in putting this project on hold but we will keep fighting until it is gone for good! Read more.

The project consists of:

  • Transco Interconnect Pipeline: 6.2 miles of steel pipeline connecting VNG’s existing Quantico pipeline with the Transco pipeline, cutting through Fauquier and Prince William counties (all pipelines will be 30 inches in diameter)
  • Quantico Parallel Pipeline: 3.3 miles of pipeline running parallel to VNG’s existing Quantico pipeline in Fauquier County
  • Mechanicsville Parallel Pipeline: 14.6 miles of pipeline running parallel to VNG’s existing Lateral Pipeline in Hanover, New Kent, and Charles City counties
  • Transco Interconnect Compressor Station: new compressor station in Prince William County
  • Ladysmith Compressor Station Expansion: expanding the footprint of the existing Ladysmith Compressor Station in Caroline County
  • Gidley Compressor Station: new compressor station in the existing Gidley Gate Metering/Regulation Station in the City of Chesapeake

Its primary purpose would be to provide gas for a new gas plant called the “Charles City Combined-Cycle Gas Turbine,” or C4GT, which would be located about a mile from yet one more proposed gas plant called the Chickahominy Power Station, which would be the largest in the state of Virginia. These two massive plants would be located in communities with majority-minority populations, far higher than the Virginia average.

The Harm of HIP

Threats to drinking water: The project sections will cross Cedar Creek, Cedar Run, Slate Run and Town Run and more than a dozen unnamed streams in Northern Virginia. The Occoquan Reservoir Intake is also in the pathway of the pipeline construction and it is a major drinking water source for all of Northern Virginia. The Mechanicville Parallel Pipeline would impact Chickahominy River, Boatswain Creek, Elder Swamp, Higgins Swamp, Possum Run and over 34 unnamed crossings, impacting 9886 linear feet of waterways. The Chickahominy River would be crossed by the Mechanicsville Parallel Pipe within the section designated as a Scenic River by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Compressor station pollutants: Compressor stations are built along pipeline routes to pump the gas, enabling it to flow down the pipeline. Compressor stations emit air pollutants that are harmful to human health, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM). Particulate matter can be easily inhaled and directly affect the heart and lungs. The toxic pollutants produced by compressor stations also end up in our water.

Compressor station noise pollution: Compressor stations produce noise pollution that can negatively impact the daily lives of those who live nearby. Not only are the loud noises disrupting and irritating, they may increase the risk for sleep disturbance and cardiovascular disease. You can listen to the noise produced by a compressor station here.

Reduced water quality from pipelines: Run-off and sedimentation during construction, as well as chemical additives used to keep rights-of-way clear, can impact local surface water and groundwater.

Dangerous climate impacts: According to growing scientific data, fracked gas could disrupt the climate on par with coal, when factoring in the full cycle of emissions from extraction to piping to and burning. With rising seas already flooding Virginia’s coastal communities, this is a risk we can’t afford to take.

Public safety: A pipeline “blowout” near Appomattox, Virginia in 2008 created a fireball reported to be a quarter mile high, injuring residents, and damaging nearly 100 homes.

Environmental racism: The Gidley Compressor station in the city of Chesapeake is proposed for the middle of a dense neighborhood comprised of 65 percent people of color — much higher than the state’s average of 37.4 percent. The neighborhood is also made up of a disproportionately high level of low-income residents — 30.8 percent compared to the state’s average of 25.2 percent.

Additionally, the project is slated to feed into the proposed C4GT station, which would be located about a mile from the proposed massive Chickahominy Power Station. Both power plants would be located in Charles City County, another majority-minority community — about 55 percent people of color. 

Many residents of Chesapeake and Charles City County think their communities already bear their fair share of environmental risk: Chesapeake has high-powered gas lines and some of the worst air pollution in the state, and neighborhoods around the proposed compressor station already rank high in environmental justice screening for proximity to a Superfund site and wastewater discharges. Charles City County is home to a regional mega-landfill with a history of violations.

Watch: Gas Compressor Site Noise

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If you’re interested in getting involved against the Header Injustice Project, contact Lauren Landis at lauren@chesapeakeclimate.org.

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