Pre-construction, muddied waters already an issue at Energy Center

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

Posted on April 4th, 2024

Pre-construction of the Moriah Energy Facility is already impacting waterways.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop headed out to the field this week to assess how groundbreaking for Dominion’s Moriah Energy Center is impacting waterways.

“While I was on vacation last week, I was sent an email from one of the facility’s neighbors letting me know that preconstruction activities were going on,” Sam said. “Construction is beginning on site, and we’re already, in the earliest phase of construction, seeing significant impacts on one of the creeks that runs through the site when it rains.”

Two streams run through the site, and both are tributaries of Deep Creek, which flows into the Flat River. Deep Creek is home to such threatened and endangered aquatic species as the Neuse River Waterdog, Roanoke Bass, Carolina Ladle Crayfish and several species of mussels.

Baseline sampling Sam took earlier this year showed a creek with very low turbidity. On March 28, however, when neighbors collected water samples from the creek at the same location, flowing from the Energy Center’s grounds through their property, the turbidity reading was more than 10 times the state standard. Turbidity is the relative clarity of a liquid; high levels of sediment in the water can result in harm to aquatic life.

“What this shows is that community members that have expressed concern about downstream endangered species have a reason to be concerned,” Sam said.

A photo taken of the stream flowing from the future Moriah Energy Center onto a neighboring property illustrates how sediment flows from the disturbed land into the waterway.

In early December 2023, the Person County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve rezoning 480 acres of land near Moriah, paving the way for the liquified natural gas storage facility despite many local residents speaking out about possible impacts. Sound Rivers, at the time, called for studies to be done before the facility was approved: a groundwater analysis, an environmental impact statement and feasibility study, and an endangered species survey study.

“We also called for a construction plan that mitigates sediment and stormwater volume impacts,” Sam said.

Sam said concern about the impacts of the facility has not abated.

“There is a broad and growing coalition of local community members, conservation organizations and legal groups who are working on opposing this proposal is whatever ways we can,” she said.

In May, Sam will be hosting a Muddy Water Watch training to help community members identify violations on the construction site and how to report them.

“We’re also going to be doing a Creek Walk to get people in the creek and talking about water quality,” she said.

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