Pipeline work expected in September; help will be needed

LUMBERTON — Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Robeson County should begin sometime in September.

Aaron Ruby, Media Relations manager for Dominion Energy, said Friday he does not have a specific start date.

Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas are partners in the construction of the $5 billion, 600-mile pipeline that will carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina to a point near Pembroke. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave the go-ahead Tuesday to begin construction along the entire pipeline route.

The ACP partners will need people to help build the pipeline. Job seekers can go online to https://atlanticcoastpipeline.com/workforce.aspx for information about applying for a job.

The pipeline’s builders announced in 2017 that they have entered into a agreement with four unions that will be responsible for recruiting and training the estimated 13,000 workers needed to build the ACP. The unions are the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Teamsters National Pipeline, International Union of Operating Engineers, and United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States.

The ACP partners also announced in 2017 that the unions have committed to hiring at least half of the construction workforce through local union membership in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Twenty-five percent of all new hires — people joining the trade unions for the first time — are to be hired from local communities along the pipeline’s route. The unions have committed to offering free local training and apprenticeship programs that will help new hires to pursue careers in the building and construction trades after the ACP is built.

Needed for the pipeline’s construction are:

— Laborers who install environmental control devices, perform ground clearing, coat and install the pipe, and restore the right of way.

— Teamsters to transport personnel, materials and equipment.

— Operators who will operate excavators, bulldozers, pipe-bending and laying machines, cranes, forklifts and other construction equipment.

— Welders to weld and bend the pipe, install road bores and perform hydrostatic testing.

Vendors, subcontractors and suppliers also will be needed. Among those who could see business related to the ACP are aggregate suppliers, auto/truck part stores, concrete suppliers, gas stations, hardware stores, inspectors, office supply stores, rental equipment suppliers, sanitation services and welding suppliers. People interested in supplying subcontractor or vending services can go to https://atlanticcoastpipeline.com/vendor/apply.aspx for information.

County leaders have hailed the ACP as a benefit to the local economy. The pipeline is expected to bring in about $900,000 a year in property tax revenue when it is operational. County leaders also have said the pipeline will mean a steady and reliable source of natural gas that will benefit local businesses and residents and will be a selling point when recruiting businesses and industries to Robeson County.

Critics say the pipeline represents a threat to the local environment. They also say there isn’t sufficient demand for the natural gas the ACP will transport.