Councilman calls on Norfolk to block controversial pipeline to Harbor Park

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk councilman is speaking out against Virginia Natural Gas’ refusal to stand down on the controversial Southside Connector gas pipeline. 

The latest request from Councilman Paul Riddick comes following an action packed public hearing last week where citizens asked for a delay in implementing the final link in the pipeline.

A series of letters lay out the correspondence between VNG and the City of Norfolk. 

In one of them, Virginia Natural Gas President Jim Kibler claims all systems are go for the final link of the pipeline around Harbor Park.

Following last week’s public hearing, City Council asked Norfolk City Manager Doug Smith to layout the concerns to Kibler.

One of the concerns is that VNG needs to correct the marketing and branding of the line as a transmission line and not a distribution line. Transmission lines lead to the huge explosions we have seen across the country.  He asked about pipe depth, and the percentage of a high pressure gas line failure.

In his letter back to Smith, Kibler wrote, “We are not in a position to agree to any further delays in this project. We have a statutory and regulatory obligation to serve the public and to provide safe and reliable energy to this region.” 

Councilman Riddick says the city needs to block VNG from access around the city property of Harbor Park that would connect the line that already exists. 

“Council could have come together in a closed session and we could have voted to rescind the easement that we gave them over at Harbor Park and that would have settled everything. After that we probably would have gone to court and battled with them at least our city and people would have been satisfied with the safety of the project.” 

Riddick has spoken with Mayor Kenny Alexander, who did not communicate back, but Riddick is planning an aggressive move to stop the city easement to Harbor Park property.

Smith wrote in his letter that “there is an expectation…for residents to be safe in their homes, schools, houses of worship and the like are safe.”

To that Kibler writes about “fear-mongering” and “misrepresentation” that “the very same pipeline now under construction was installed by VNG in Ghent 10 years ago.”

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