‘No answers’ at Dominion open house

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Stormwater Runoff, Water Quality

Posted on May 30th, 2024

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop joined community members at Dominion Energy's Moriah Energy Center open house last week.

Dominion Energy invited the community to an open house about the construction of the Moriah Energy Center last week, but few of their questions were answered, according to Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop.

“It was very well attended and a demonstration of the passion and organization of local community members. They had created a plan to engage and had a list of over 20 questions they were prepared to ask,” Samantha said. “Unfortunately, Dominion had it set up in a way that they weren’t engaging with everyone together, and when community members requested they have more of forum, Dominion representatives refused. It ended up being a very loud and noisy and chaotic space.”

Neighbors and others concerned with the environmental impact of the Moriah Energy Center gather outside the Dominion Energy open house.

The liquified natural gas facility in Person County has caused controversy from its start, when Person County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve rezoning for the facility in front of a large and very vocal NO MEC crowd. Since, clear-cutting 70 acres of land in the pre-construction phase has resulted in sediment pollution of creeks running off the property and through neighbors’ land. The creeks are tributaries of Deep Creek and Flat River, both home to some of North Carolina’s endangered species, including the Neuse Waterdog and several species of mussels. Community members concerned about harm to the creeks and aquatic species attended the open house to get answers, Samantha said.

“It was definitely not useful in getting answers to our questions. There was a lot of deflecting. If we had questions about sediment pollution, the response was: ‘Everything on site is in compliance, and we have not been issued any notices of violation,’” she said. “If anything, it just further proved how unwilling they are to be accountable and to meaningfully engage with the concerns community members are bringing forth.”

A Moriah Energy Center neighbor looks for endangered mussels in a creek that stands to be harmed by the facility’s construction.

Samantha said Sound Rivers will continue to document impacts to creeks in the area. While she has been monitoring turbidity on two creeks since before construction started, this week, she met up with community members to identify more sample sites in the area surrounding the Moriah Energy Center.

“We’re working with the community on the ground to keep an eye on the creeks. We’ve got a team of volunteers, and we’re going to continue to document the impacts of sediment runoff and keep sending those reports to the state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources and the Division of Water Resources,” she said.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop gets a tour by golf cart of a property, and its creek, neighboring Dominion’s liquified natural gas facility in Person County.

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