Dominion Sues for Pipeline Access

WHEELING – Some Valley Grove property owners are locked in a federal lawsuit involving a pipeline that transports natural gas to the Blue Racer Midstream Natrium plant in Marshall County.

Dominion NGL Pipelines is a company that transports natural gas from Ohio County for processing at the Blue Racer plant. Blue Racer is a $1.5 billion partnership between Dominion Resources, the parent company of Dominion NGL, and Caiman Energy.

Dominion’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Wheeling, states that Joseph Bippus entered into a right-of-way agreement, as well as a road agreement, in March 2012 that allows the company to build and service a pipeline.

In August, Dominion learned that a coal company planned to mine underneath the pipeline on the Bippus property. The only active coal operation in Ohio County is the Tunnel Ridge Mine, operated by Alliance Resources.

According to Dominion, the company needs to place “strain gauges” on the pipeline to measure the stress created by the coal mining, an action Dominion believes is needed to protect the line. However, Dominion attorneys Karen Kahle and James Wright state the company has been unable to install the gauges.

Dominion wants the court to allow access to the pipeline to apply the gauges so the company would not have to replace damaged portions of the line, which it believes would cost six times more than using the gauges.

Attorney Eric Gordon and the Bippus family see the matter differently. They believe Dominion tried to use property outside the right-of-way agreement area while “unlawfully converting the topsoil to their own use.”

“Due to the pipeline remaining exposed, the Bippus family has lost the ability to use a significant portion of their property; they have lost hay and pasture land, and have suffered a diminished value of their property,” Gordon wrote in court documents.

Gordon states that his clients want what they believe is adequate compensation for the use of their land.