Experts find Norfolk/Chesapeake pipeline project to be safe after concerns raised

NORFOLK, Va. - Independent consultants presented their findings about the Southside Connector pipeline project to city council members on Tuesday.

Southside Connector Pipeline map

The city manager directed the consultants to go and review the project amid concerns, according to a city spokesperson.

The nine-mile pipeline is being built in Chesapeake and Norfolk and currently is 87 percent completed, but there has been push back by some who say the pipeline isn't safe.

In September, Colonna's Shipyard's CEO said the pipeline is high pressure and that "presents a lot of hazards" for an urban area.

In response, Virginia Natural Gas, who is building the pipeline, sent a letter to residents defending the project.

"The Southside Connector is neither unusual or unsafe," Jim Kibler, the president, wrote in the letter. "In fact, we currently maintain the exact same pipe in Norfolk and elsewhere in Hampton Roads, with no issues whatsoever."

Kibler said the pipeline is necessary to keep up with demand especially during the winter. He said in some cases there have been interruptions in service at places like military installations on very cold weather days.

On Monday, Jim Hall, the former head of the NTSB, presented his findings. "A high pressure pipeline could be the equivalent of a potential bomb if something happens," said Hall, who was paid by Colonna's to author his report.

Despite the pay, he said he has long been concerned about pipelines and their regulation. "What I found was a community that wasn't being adequately informed on what was being done," he said.

On Tuesday the consultants said the pipeline is safe and they see no reason why construction shouldn't continue.

In part the report said, "The Southside Connector intrastate natural gas transmission pipeline is one of the safest pipelines constructed. I see no reason not to proceed with construction of this pipeline."

Click here to read the entire report of their findings.

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