Investigation underway into mudslide that halted pipeline construction

DEQ responds amid concerns over water quality

BOONES MILL, Va. – An investigation into what caused a mudslide to block a Franklin County road near construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is underway.

Sediment broke through barriers Friday amid heavy rain, and neighbors said about a foot of mud blocked Cahas Mountain Road in Boones Mill.

Pipeline workers installed new barriers on Monday and inspectors with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality continued to look into what caused the earth to slide down the hillside, according to DEQ spokeswoman Ann Regn.

Many people have expressed concerns in the last four years about the negative effect construction could have on water quality.

Regn said the mud did not reach any streams.

“It appears that water was channeled and then carried this mass of mud downhill,” she said.

She said workers stopped construction when the mudslide happened and they won’t resume until the area is stabilized.

“They will be in the area for the next three or four days to conduct inspections and to investigate what happened and why,” she said.

MVP spokeswoman Natalie Cox said workers reported the problem when it started and an initial review shows workers installed the controls properly. She echoed that no streams were affected.

“The circumstances appear unusual and an ultimate cause is under investigation. Upon learning of the issue, MVP crews promptly began remediation activities, and the road was reopened about 5:30 p.m. Friday. The project team remains committed to the safe and responsible construction of this important underground infrastructure project," Cox said.

Regn said DEQ inspectors should know more about what caused the problem in about a week.