Crossing our Green River with care

Published 7:32 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

To the editor:

Crossing the Green River is no small thing and neither is PSNC Energy’s gas line expansion project through Polk County.

Just the leg from Mill Spring to Arden is 25.3 miles long, disturbs 312 acres of land, costs $75 million, crosses major streams (Ostin and Silver Creek), and 120 feet across our Green River. The gas pipes are steel constructed, 20 inches wide by 42 feet long and wrapped in four inches of concrete before being buried 10 feet below the Green River.

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The workforce involves a 300-person crew, 50-man pipe-gang, 40 track hoes, 15 side booms, 20 bulldozers, two suction pipe grabber cranes and one Jurassic Park all-terrain touring jeep which I got to ride in!

Agencies permitting this project include Polk County Government, NCDEQ, DWR, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish & Wildlife, Wildlife Resource Commission, and NCDOT.

Crossing of the Green River will be somewhat of a marvel, as it involves plan specs like digging in 30 foot deep sheet metal pilings across the river, trenching, tiebacks, timber tops, moving bridge, swamp mats, turbidity curtains, turbidity water monitoring and compliance with pre-set parameters.

PSNC will coordinate with Lake Summit to drop water levels, and weather permitting, will work non-stop until they are done. Polk County Manager Marche Pittman states, “We will have Dave Odom’s office (county engineer) spot check during the river crossing.”

River Keeper and Water Quality Administrator of the MountainTrue organization will be assisting the Protect Polk Water (PPW) group with water quality – turbidity testing before and during the river crossing in order to help quantify possible sediment releases into our Green River.

Mr. Don Hallingse, External Relations/PSNC, and Thomas Perez, Environmental Technical/S&ME, have been most forthcoming with my requests for information and (jeep) pre-tour of the project’s river crossing site. They are aware of PPW concerns of further sedimentation insults into the Green River, as Polk already faces removing 20,000 cubic yards of it per the 2015 Dredging Feasibility Study by Altamont Environmental. They are aware they are digging into Polk’s reclassified (WS-IV) future drinking water supply.

According to Hallingse/PSNC Energy, “This expansion project will triple current distribution capacity to meet projected natural gas needs of Western NC for the next 30 years” but what about PSNC meeting Polk County’s needs for today, that they execute their invasive permitted project, through our natural lands and waters, in the very best way? That PSNC Energy be accountable for minimizing, complying and mitigating any negative environmental impacts their massive project might cause to our county? The opportunity is now (not after the fact) for Polk to do everything we can to ensure, monitor and watch that proper protections for our lands and drinking waters are occurring throughout this project.

A message to PSNC, please cross our Green River with utmost care.

Sky Conard
Lake Adger, N.C.