Supporters, opponents of Norfolk/Chesapeake pipeline project speak at packed council meeting

Posted at 10:52 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 23:28:58-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The Southside Connector Pipeline project is almost finished in both Chesapeake and Norfolk, but not everyone is in favor of its construction.

It was packed inside Norfolk City Hall Tuesday night, where the council meeting addressed the topic - so packed that people had to have these wristbands on just to get in.

There were around 40-50 people signed up to speak for and against the pipeline.

There was a divided room of t -shirts, some with the words "Norfolk Can't Run on Mermaid Power," others with "Virginia is Not for Pipelines."

"There's no need for this pipeline. This pipeline will actually transmit gas out of our area, not bring gas into our area," said Jeff Staples, who is opposed to the construction of the pipeline.

Pipeline opponent Jeff Staples' shirt

In contrast, E.J. Spence isn't as skeptical.

"As long as I got heat, I don't care if they distribute it or [if they're] selling it. I don't care what they do with it because we're moving into a new time. It's a different pipeline; it's not the one that was put in the ground 50-60 years ago," Spence said.

On Monday, officials said 87 percent of the pipeline is completed.

Earlier Tuesday, independent consultants hired by the City of Norfolk released reports saying the pipeline is safe and that 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.

The findings also said they are building along the safest possible route and before the pipeline is placed in service it will be thoroughly inspected.

However, there has still been much push back from community members in the city with a lot of concerns of hazardous situations that could occur.

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

"The pipelines have been exploding all over the United States lately, and this one is going right through some very populated areas," Staples said.

In response, Virginia Natural Gas, who is building the pipeline, sent a letter to residents defending the project, saying it operates similar pipelines in the area and that the pipeline is necessary to keep up with demand.