Tree Cutting in Reston
This week while I was out of town, the Columbia Gas Transmission encroachment removal crew headed by Cedric Kline was in full force on our street in Reston, VA. They proceeded to severely trim the canopy on trees outside their 50 foot right of way. I now have a stand of trees that are little more than poles with a few braches atop as well as trees literally cut in half. I have lived here for 22 years and have never once planted a tree or other obstruction within the right of way. I don't understand how they have large parking lots over their easement but will not let trees overhang into their sacred grounds.
From Dean in Reston | 10.27.07 - 11:12 pm
Pipeline Exposion in Illinois

Video of the recent natural gas pipeline explosion in Pawnee, IL. 

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

This was  a 22 inch-single transportation line. The nearest house was a third of a mile away. 

From the article:
Pipeline Explodes ; Pawnee Farmer Worried About Injuries to Livestock
State Journal Register, Arrival Time: 2007-05-01

The pipe, which sat about 3 feet under ground, was exposed after the blast and a 4-foot section of the pipe appeared to be blown out and laid twisted several yards away.
Debbie Mueller, who lives north of the blast site on Delay Road, described the view outside her window as an "inferno" and recalled a continuous hissing noise as the gas fueled the blaze.
"You can't imagine what it looked like unless you saw it, heard it or felt it," she said. "Thank God it wasn't in a neighborhood, can you imagine?"
Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson agreed.
"The closest house is about a third of a mile away, and the siding on the house was burned and melted. It was just unbelievable. I think we really dodged a bullet. As big as this was, it could have been much, much worse with the loss of life," he said.
Lederbrand - who lives on Cotton Hill Road, only a half-mile south of where the blast occurred - recalled how the explosion awoke him from a sound sleep.
"It shook the house, and first, for a split-second, I thought it was an airplane crashing, and it had this loud, real loud, like a freight train going through, just constant (sound)," he recalled. "All I could see was a glowing orange out of the blinds of the windows ... as soon as I looked down there, there were shooting flames, 500 to 600 feet in the air."

In our neighborhood we have two 26 inch pipelines 50 feet from homes, 70 feet from home plate on the Dranesville Elementary athletic field, 150 yards from Dranesville Elementary, and adjacent to the Hiddenbrook playground and pool. Assuming equal pressures, that is 279% more gas in the two 26 inch pipes in Herndon/Sterling/Reston than this one 22 inch pipeline in Illinois.
 Imagine indeed.

From the article:
Pipeline Blast's Cause Still Unknown ; Probe Could Take Weeks; Farmers Say Land Damaged
State Journal Register, Arrival Time: 2007-05-02

Alvies said the fireball damaged about half of the roughly nine acres east of the site and about 4 acres of a similar-sized field to the west. The intense heat disintegrated a woven wire fence and steel posts near the pipeline and melted a portion of nearby roadway that later resolidified.
The land immediately surrounding the blast site is "like volcanic ash," he said. "To try to plant something in that would be like trying to plant on this carpet or concrete," he said Monday.

I believe this is pertinent because it gets to the real issue-safety.   Cutting or trimming trees is a very visible action that Columbia can point to,  but it has no bearing on the major causes of catastrophic failures in older pipelines. Older pipelines are more likely to fail due to corrosion, stress cracks, inferior welding techniques used prior to 1970, and lack of cathodic protection (which was not required on most pipelines installed prior to July 31, 1971).

In the last article it is noted that the agency investigating the damage is the pipeline company itself. 

The pipeline that exploded was built in the 40's. Our pipeline was built in 1954.

Ask your local/state/federal representatives what Columbia is really doing to protect our community.




Congressman Frank Wolf

Pevarski, Brendan"

Herndon Office
13873 Park Center Rd Ste.130
Herndon, VA 20171
(703) 709-5800 or
(800) 945-9653 in state
(703) 709-5802 fax

Senator Janet Howell

Reston, VA 20195
P.O. Box 2608
(703) 709-8283
(703) 435-1995 Fax

Fairfax County, Dranesville Supervisor
Joan DuBois
PH 703-356-0551
FAX 703-821-4275
Fairfax County, Chairman of the Board
Gerry Connolly
PH 703-324-2321
FAX 703-324-3955

Feb 07, Columbia Gas & Ohio reach agreement. Apr 07, Columbia violates agreement.
In February, Columbia Gas and the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources (ODNR) reached an agreement regarding clearing around wellheads in the Mohican Forest. According to the Beacon Journal "The agreement also ordered that no trees were to be cut along gas pipeline rights of way within the north-central Ohio forest until ODNR and the company reached a separate deal on the dimensions of the clearance."

From the
Mount Vernon News on April 9th "While clearing trees on private property last week, a maintenance crew working for Columbia Gas Transmission mistakenly also cut trees in the Mohican State Forest.
"Columbia Gas had been clearing on private land along a gas line right of way," said Andy Ware, assistant chief of forestry for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division. "There's a spot where the line crosses over into the state forest. The clearing continued from private property onto state property, almost 300 foot long and 50 foot wide.
"We were really surprised and very disappointed this happened," said Ware. "Our agreement with [Columbia Gas Transmission] clearly pertained to well head sites only.
"We do believe the boundary was clearly marked," he said. "In that area, a yellow mark of paint is an indication of the boundary. One of the trees that was cut was a yellow-marked tree."

Once again Columbia has shown it is either inept or duplicitous. Before gas lines are permitted by FERC, environmental concerns (local and otherwise) had to be addressed. After permitting local and state governments are not allowed to unreasonably interfere with the operation of the pipeline, however the intent was NOT to give the energy company the right to do whatever it wanted.
(See the Big Lies) When it comes to deciding how to treat the public and private lands on which it has a right of way, Columbia Gas is an unfit steward. The federal government should relieve Columbia of this burden and give authority back to the states to determine how energy companies (NOT just Columbia Gas) maintain the land above their pipes.


Comments now enabled
Happy New Year,

I have finally had the time enable comments on this page. I guess that means we have joined the blogosphere......whoopee.

I recently stumbled on an article in Reston Community Newspaper dated Nov 29th, 2006. You can find it in pdf form on the Articles NVA page or here.
Reston is one of the communities just down the line (pipeline) from us. It appears that the publicity and attention they have received since mutilating our neighborhood may be ameliorating their actions in Reston. Then again it may be that the Reston Association has a lot more clout than the 20 or so homeowners in our neighborhood directly affected.

Boehringer said the Reston
Association had been concerned about what form the vegetation control might take because they had seen the work Columbia recently did in Herndon. There, she said, any part of a tree that was within a certain distance of the pipeline had been removed. "What you're left with is like acid rain fell on everything, and it looked awful," she said, adding that some trees had been removed while others were left nearly limbless. 
"There was a big uproar in Herndon, and we benefited from that, I think," said Boehringer, adding that the company had so far cooperated readily with the community.

I think it is important to realize that, whatever change Columbia makes in their treatment of our community, it is motivated more by the backlash from what they have done so far, than any corporate epiphany.

And as far as hedges, they do not have any inherent 'right' to cut them. In fact according to our easement the pipeline is supposed to be 'maintained below cultivation' so we could grow corn or sunflowers for that matter. My dad's beans were on stalks over 5 feet high. If it doesn't interfere with the operation of a pipeline the easement language should determine their rights. Just because it is cheaper to do aerial survey does not make it necessary or better.

In Texas a pipeline company lost a case to remove a large tree on their easement. The court found the tree did not prevent them from inspecting the pipeline and they were flying their easement 2-3 time a week. I suspect that if Columbia were to fly over enough to have a reasonable chance of catching someone digging near the pipeline, the probability of that airplane crashing in a crowded neighborhood would outweigh any possible benefit.

What really concerns me is that they may be substituting the aerial survey for another more effective inspection just because it is more 'efficient'. It is my understanding that the pipeline operator has a lot of leeway in how they inspect their lines, this creates a conflict between corporate profits and public safety that I think is unwise. Judging from the way they treated our neighborhood and the easement at the Potomac, their bottom line outweighs the welfare of the community.


The manner in which Columbia Gas has treated our neighborhood is truly horrifying, unfortunately this is not an aberration.

I will be adding pictures from different areas of Columbia's operations as they become available. This is my first attempt at a website so bear with me.

As I become more proficient at this i intend to add a link where others can upload their pictures.

In the meantime please feel free to send me links or pictures.