Ignoring residents’ concerns, county approves LNG facility in the upper Neuse watershed

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Water Quality

Posted on December 7th, 2023

Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Katey Zimmerman speaks out against the LNG facility rezoning.

Person County has paved the way for a new liquified, natural gas storage facility on 480 acres in Moriah, but many residents are not happy about it.

The decision to rezone the land from rural conservation to general industrial was made on Monday night, after a public hearing in which residents and Sound Rivers Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Katey Zimmerman shared their concerns about the Moriah Energy Center.

“There was a huge turnout at the meeting — maxing out the building’s fire code. Virtually everyone in the audience wore a yellow ‘No MEC’ sticker or held a sign. About 30 people spoke opposing the LNG (liquified natural gas) facility rezoning and not a single person gave a comment supporting it,” Katey said.

The meeting lasted two hours, but it took commissioners less than a minute to move forward with the plan.

Katey was standing in for Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop, who was unable to attend the meeting. During her time to speak, she listed Sound Rivers’ concerns about the facility, including potential issues with groundwater supply and how neighbors with wells will be impacted by the facility’s significant draws on groundwater; that the facility will be located in a sensitive part of the watershed; potential sedimentation issues caused by its construction that could decimate at least 10 threatened or endangered aquatic species found in nearby Deep Creek and Flat River.

Katey called for a groundwater analysis, an environmental impact statement and feasibility study, an endangered species survey study, a requirement that Dominion pay for new water sources if local wells dry up, and a construction plan that mitigates sediment and stormwater volume impacts.

It is unclear if commissioners and Dominion will take initiative to protect the watershed and the community relying on the groundwater supply.

“The county commissioners unanimously decided to approve the rezoning. Many residents were visually and audibly angered by this disregard for public opinion,” Katey said.

The “No MEC” group, led by Carolina Hansley of the Sierra Club, coordinated a press conference before the hearing outside the building to share their concerns with news media and other residents. For more information about the hearing, read this article on NC Newsline.

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