Marshall County, WV Pipeline Installation Problems

George Lagos and his small staff of water department employees who work at Marshall County (WV) Public Service District No. 4 (PSD No. 4) have a problem—too many gas pipelines being laid, not enough workers to inspect the process.

PSD No. 4 serves a large area of the county between Moundsville and Cameron. Lagos and two others are responsible for inspecting and maintaining 200 miles of water and other types of pipelines. When new natural gas pipelines are installed, Lagos is supposed to get 48 hours notice so they can monitor the installation. According to Lagos, that isn’t happening.

For example, last week a pipeline was being laid by Dominion Resources for their new $500 million natural gas processing plant in Natrium, but the pipeliners had not given Lagos and his department the required 48 hours notice. When Lagos arrived, an active municipal water pipeline which had been unearthed was suspended in the air by ropes and was exposed to direct sunlight—which may cause bacterial growth in the water pipeline which services many residents.

"There should be a 3-foot distance between our lines and their lines," Lagos said after speaking with a pipeline foreman, who assured him the problem would be corrected.

"There should be sandbags all the way from the bottom of the ditch, all the way to the top of the waterline. It takes them time to sandbag it the way they are supposed to do," he said.

Lagos said having an active waterline that is delivering water to his customers totally exposed to the summer sun opens the possibility of bacterial growth in the water passing through the line.

"It’s not these guys’ fault. It is an absolute communication breakdown between the supervisors, the gas companies and us," he added.

Dominion spokesman Charles Penn said pipeliners working for his company plan to meet with PSD officials to ensure that Dominion explicitly understands the PSD’s procedures and expectations and are fully compliant with them.

"We are aware of the PSD’s concerns, and we are now aware of their requirements of a 48-hour notice and how they want us to handle their waterlines, and we will certainly adhere to their requirements," said Penn.

Lagos said he appreciates Dominion stepping forward, but emphasized PSD officials told Dominion about this on a prior occasion.

"We have been pretty clear on this all the way through," he said. "All we ask for is some notice so we can see what they’re doing, and for them to keep our waterlines insulated with sandbags the way they are supposed to do."

Lagos said while this particular issue arose from a Dominion project, there are plenty of other companies laying pipelines in Marshall County that are causing problems.*

But Dominion’s is not the only pipeline being built in Lagos’ district. There are, in fact, at least nine others:

Lagos said there [are] at least nine other gas pipeline projects happening in his district right now – and that problems with water happen virtually every day.

"There were four instances of one company boring under or exposing our lines in one day," he said. "Some of them just seem to do whatever, whenever."

*Wheeling (WV) The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register (Jun 25, 2012) – Pipelines Irk PSD Officials