Demonstrators protest against Mountain Valley Pipeline

By Rachel Lucas - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

NEWPORT (WSLS 10) -Fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline, dozens from across the New River and Roanoke Valley will be protesting Saturday morning along route 42 in Newport.

The controversial 301-mile-long natural gas pipeline would carry natural gas through West Virginia and Virginia.

Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes to construct a 42-inch natural gas transmission pipeline through the middle of Newport, Giles County and just below Kelly Knob on the Appalachian Trail in the Sinking Creek Valley.

According to studies paid for by local conservation groups, scientists report the the pipeline would be hazardous to the area because of karst topography. Local experts say the pipeline could create conditions making the area more prone to landslides and even earthquakes. Giles County is home to the largest earthquake ever reported in Virginia. According to the USGS, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake happened in 1897.

This earthquake was the largest in intensity and aerial extent in Virginia in historical times. MM intensity VII to VIII extended over an elliptical area - from near Lynchburg, west to Bluefield, West Virginia, and from Giles County south to Bristol, Tennessee. The MM intensity VIII assigned to this earthquake is based on "many downed chimneys" and "changes in the flow of springs" according to the USGS.

The most recent earthquake in Giles County was reported in 1978. For more information click here.

Organizers with Preserve Giles County, Sierra Club, Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy are sponsoring the rally.

Demonstrators will be warning cars as they enter what they call a 'blast zone', an area they say if the proposed pipeline would be built would endanger the public in case of an explosion.

Rick Shingles, Coordinator with Preserve Giles County says the pipeline is not only a danger to the environment and local wildlife, but to the safety of the public who live and work near the proposed path of the pipeline.

"That thing has an effect on the residents if it were to blow within three quarters of a mile in either direction," Shingles said. "And the area within around 1500 feet in either direction is the incineration zone. It's called the blast zone. No one should have to worry if they were in that zone because they will feel no pain. They will incinerate instantly."

Federal regulators released the highly-anticipated environmental impact statement for the mountain valley pipeline Friday stating that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would have limited negative impacts.

Shingles says their safety concerns are being ignored.

The demonstration will be held at the Newport Recreation and Community Center in Newport starting at 10:30 am to noon. The public is invited to participate or attend.

The address is 434 Blue Grass Trail (Rt. 42), Newport, Giles County, VA

This event celebrates the community of Newport and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's vision to "connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy."

Now that FERC has released the Environmental Impact Draft Statement, a 90-day comment period is open to the public for comment. For more information click here.

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