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Recent pipeline explosions worry Va. residents about Atlantic Coast Pipeline

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) -- There were two natural gas pipeline explosions across the U.S. in the last two weeks, and that has some Virginia residents on edge about the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Norfolk businessman Bob Wilson bought a Wintergreen Resort home with peace of mind that Wintergreen is a safe place for his family and for him.

He doesn't feel that way now since Dominion Energy chose a route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that is at the only entrance and exit on and off the mountain resort.

Keep in mind that on June 7 in Moundsville, West Virginia, there was a newly installed natural gas pipeline that shot flames into the sky that could be seen for miles. 

Eight days later there was another natural gas pipeline explosion that rocked rural Kansas. There were huge flames that shot 100 feet into the air.

Bob Wilson, who was playing Shipwreck Putt-Putt at Motor World with his grandson, Hunter, thinks about those explosions a lot.

"My grandson likes to ski Wintergreen. What is going to happen, if we have an accident up there and we can't get out?"

If you look at pictures of the only main entrance and exit on and off the mountain, there are cut down trees that are near the entrance off Wintergreen, and those chopped down trees are the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

"When they say it can't happen here, and then it happens within weeks of each other, the probability is it is going to happen, and it's just a matter of when," Wilson said.

If you look closely at the pictures, the pipeline is in the blast zone of Wintergreen Resort's police, fire, and 911 emergency call centers.

Officials say the blast zone stretches 1,100 feet from where the gas line will be buried. 

10 On Your Side asked Dominion Energy about that. 

Spokesperson Aaron Ruby said, "Those pipelines operate every single day in close proximity to our schools, hospitals, police, and fire stations all across Virginia, and they operate safely 99.9 percent of the time."   

Wilson's attorney Brian Kunze with the Waldo Lyle Law Firm said, "This is right next to a 42" gas pipeline. It is an unsafe situation that Dominion has put on the Property Owner's Association," Kunze added.  "If you want to get into a little more detail, they are going under the Blue Ridge Parkway because any other spot they would have to get Congressional approval because it is going through the George Washington National Forrest ... this one spot they only need the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service."

10 On Your Side also asked Ruby about those two pipeline ruptures destroying Bob Wilson's peace of mind, "We are going to pay very close attention to them as they are investigating the cause of these recent pipeline incidents.  We want to know if there are lessons we can learn and apply to our own pipeline system to make it even safer,  and less likely to have these kind of incidents," Ruby added.

By the way, Bob Wilson is no stranger to eminent domain. He beat ODU in court, stopping the taking of his property near the campus, and now he has a new foe, Dominion Energy. 

10 On Your Side asked Wilson what is it about Wilson and eminent domain?  "I don't know," he said with a laugh.  He then continued, "They say lightning can't strike twice, but here I am, again, fighting eminent domain.  I hope with the same results," Wilson added.

Here's what Bob Wilson's homeowner's association wants from Dominion Energy:

They want the buildings in the blast zone moved to a safer location. They then want an emergency evacuation route constructed away from where the pipeline is.  This case is set to be heard next April. 


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