PAMPLICO, S.C. (WBTW ) — An environmental group is calling on residents to take action against a proposed natural gas pipeline in Florence County.
The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is afraid of serious consequences to residents, their property and the ecosystem. The nonprofit conducted a public forum Saturday at Hannah-Pamplico High School to discuss the project.
During the meeting, Lou Zeller, the group’s strategic advisor, played blaring industrial sounds over the gymnasium’s speakers.
“I once heard from an actor that one should never abuse their audience in the way I have just abused your ears, but that was an actual recording of a compressor station, which is necessary on every pipeline to move the gas from point A to point B,” Zeller said.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the 16-inch pipeline would stretch 14.5 miles parallel to the Great Pee Dee River.
Dominion Energy said the line would expand its capacity to meet customers’ growing needs, and the company’s planning includes gathering data about the local environment.
“Dominion Energy’s pipeline will cause air pollution, water contamination, because gas lines leak,” Kathy Andrews, director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, said.
She said she thinks it would decrease property values and endanger the health of residents.
“This is already a compromised area,” Andrews said. “People have cancer, asthma, heart disease and respiratory problems. This will only aggravate those problems.”
She said the South Carolina Environmental Law Project has filed a lawsuit to prevent the project from moving forward. She urged residents to contact their representatives to speak out against the project.
“I go fishing there. I eat fish out of the river,” Johnny Miles, who lives near the proposed line, said. “How long will it be before it’s contaminated and we have to quit eating fish and stuff?”
Though some residents are concerned about the project, others think it might be necessary.
“Nobody wants it in their backyard, I get it,” Wesley Hughes said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to understand that yanking off of fossil fuels right now is causing the price of gas to skyrocket.”
Andrews said similar projects were halted in North Carolina and Virginia. She said she hopes the same will happen in Florence County.
“After its review of plans for the project, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control determined there is reasonable assurance that Dominion Energy will conduct work in a manner consistent with certification requirements, including water quality certification,” a spokesperson for Dominion Energy said. “With a profound respect for the communities we serve, this project will use our existing right of way to provide the community safe, reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy to meet their growing needs and economic development opportunities.”