Drones monitor pipeline construction and may hint at what is to come

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WINGINA, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Anti-pipeline activists in Nelson County believe that pipeline construction in West Virginia has a lot to reveal.

Image from drove video of work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, taken by Ben Cunningham of the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative.

With photos and videos taken from the sky, activists claim they have seen structures that do not comply with erosion and sediment control requirements and sites where construction proceeded without a valid certificate.

Ben Cunningham, a resident of Afton, operated his drone to capture those sightings along the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

He is a part of the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative, or CSI.

"Our mission is to hold our regulators and these ACP builders' feet to the fire when they say that no harm will come to us through the construction of this project," Cunningham said.

CSI takes the footage and plots it in an online mapping system. The database of alleged incidents and sightings from West Virginia have instilled fears that similar issues will appear in Virginia.

"What faith should we have that once they reach the steep slopes of Highland, Bath, Augusta, Nelson and other counties, that it'll be any better," Cunningham asked.

Dominion Energy is one of the companies behind the ACP.

A spokesperson for Dominion Energy said that the company is accountable to the regulatory agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which have the experience and expertise to monitor and make sure that its activities are in compliance with the law.

Dominion is waiting for one more approval from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Although there is no expected date, the spokesperson says he believes it will come very soon.

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