Rover Topple Over: Pipeline Construction in Doddridge County, WV

On February 21, a guide took me on a tour of infrackstructure in Doddridge County, WV. A common part of the tour was pulling over to wait as activity related to the pipeline construction blocked roads. Such was the case when we turned down Morgans Run, where a crew was working to stop the flow of mud off a denuded swath of hillside where the pipeline had been buried. 










Whoever was waiting on the Frontier truck to get to them had to wait a little bit longer. Traffic quickly built up behind us. The traffic jam offered an opportunity to jump out an talk with some locals trapped in the latest pipeline hold up. One woman was on her way to purchase a puppy from a resident who raises and breeds Labradors. The residents clients have been detained several times lately. The jam also offered a chance to get some shots of the work in progress.










Above: A road carved out of the forest, as part of the pipeline work, is a muddy mess. 

Parked vehicles bear the logo of the contractor

Further down from where we are stopped, it becomes clear that this is not an ordinary traffic stoppage. There’s one track hoe in the road, and is that the treads of another up in the air? I am informed that the operator is okay. My guide is told he may have broken nose, but otherwise is okay. The track hoes above the wrecked one, working to repair a hillside slip where the Rover Pipeline is buried, continue working. My guide wonders if the contractor carrying out this work for Rover informed OSHA, FERC, and WV DEP of what has happened? What about the local floodplain manager. Someone will be checking.









Quite a mess.  Meanwhile on the other side of Morgans Run…

According to the company’s website, “The Rover Pipeline is a 713-mile pipeline designed to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet per day of domestically produced natural gas from the rapidly expanding Marcellus and Utica Shale production areas to markets across the U.S. as well as into the Union Gas Dawn Storage Hub in Ontario, Canada, for redistribution back into the U.S. or into the Canadian market.”

So that’s fracked gas that will flow through this pipeline at high pressure. In this area, the diameter of the pipeline will be 36 inches. Should a blast ever occur, the blast or incineration zone would be 1000 to 1400 feet.

This kind of mess during construction here (as well as the troubles with the pipeline in its Ohio section) is deeply troubling. The pending construction of more fracked gas pipelines on similar or even steeper slopes compounds the worry. What havoc will the Mountaineer Express, the Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast pipeline wreak? What about all the feeder pipelines, the NGL pipes (natural gas liquids)? Are any of the agencies involved looking at the cumulative impacts of these large-diameter pipelines crisscrossing the state?

Locals are monitoring and reporting slipshod work. Lawsuits are underway. Sit-ins and protests are underway. Learn more. Come to the Tri-State Water Defense Public Forum on March 6 and attend the Community Organizing Summit hosted by the Appalachian Gas Working Group April 6 – 8.

Also see: Rover Pipeline Construction Disrupts Community Near Sistersville, WV, Now and Forever

OVEC's special collection libraryNov 18 2021  Hoots and Hollers
OVEC Closing Doors
Nov 4 2021  Hoots and Hollers
OVEC Co-Directors Tonya Adkins and Vivian Stockman Retiring
Sep 21 2021  Hoots and Hollers
Fact Sheet: Carbon Capture and Storage and Carbon Capture and Utilization
Sep 1 2021  Action Alert
Do You Know Someone Affected by Fracking?

The Author



  1. Awesome pictures. I live here in this same area and work in the same industry as well as most of the people here. Oil and gas is what most people do here, just like coal towns, it’s what they do. Let me tell you it’s a mess everywhere, but that comes with construction, for those of you all that didn’t know. As to the gas, it’s natural gas. Don’t add fracked gas to it. That is the process used to open the crevasses. Fractured, cracked, broke, whatever the “adjective” it’s “natural gas”. You are just giving more people an agenda by using that term just like the assult rifle, it’s just a rifle. That’s an adjective until it’s used for that purpose. Anyway good story and pictures.

  2. Have you never seen a site where it has rained and snowed? I personally don’t work in the oil and gas fields but if it wasn’t for them over half of the people would be unemployed. Go look at new home sites or new construction sites and I bet you will see mud everywhere, as for the slippage, this is West Virginia and even our roads are slipping. Thank you and have a nice day.

    1. Doddridge Resident

      Ms. Pumphrey,
      I have lived in WV for a long time.
      This situation at this spot has been a continuous problem for quite a while. The company doing this work has done a less than stellar job at numerous sites in Doddridge County.
      As far as jobs created, the majority of them appear to be held by out of area workers.
      I personally, am tired of getting continually held up by the messed up job that this company has been doing. They have used our roads as parking lots, they have caused damage to many of our roads and they have little respect for the people that live here.

      Response from a
      Doddridge County

    2. Indeed. it’s predictable that there will be heavy rains and a mess will be created when digging deeply in winter–but it isn’t legal, and they promised it wouldn’t happen.

  3. Nancy the pipeliner!

    The weather has been a nightmare throughout this whole state! They are “constructing a pipe line”! It’s gonna be a mess. God bless these people and their hard work. Please don’t speak unless you know what you’re talking about! Now, get in your gas powered vehicle, take your camera, your pen and paper, and go home to your (more than likely) gas powered home. And say a prayer for these people when you get there!

    1. Nancy: Would you ignore an airline loosing your luggage, since you’re using their services? Would you accept crummy meals & service at a restaurant? Are you OK with malpractice from Doctors? Just because you use something does not mean you can’t say something about it.

      Also, try telling the residents of San Bruno CA that because they use natural, that it was fine to line that PG&E pipeline explode, due to poor workmanship when it was built. Only 8 deaths there.

    2. Doddridge Resident

      Nancy the pipeliner,
      I am wondering if you live in Doddridge County or if you are one of the workers that is from out of this area.
      Oddly enough, what I find hard to take is that the mess could be better contained. My heart goes out to the workers that are
      working in this mess. It is a dangerous situation for them. I also know that some other companies will stop work when conditions shown in the photos in this story exist.
      Do you know if this was an OSHA recordable accident? Praying for the operator of machine and hoping that he was checked out by a doctor.
      Doddridge Resident and
      Former gas worker

  4. There’s a YouTube video, where an Enbridge contractor also had a crane flip, in Michigan.

  5. You seem to be reaching and trying to find a problem. Oil and gas contractors and the men and women who work on them put their lives in damaged everyday to make sure your home is warm in the winter and you can cook your food. Have a little respect.

    1. Chad in L.A., we don’t have to reach to find problems with drilling, fracking, and pipelining. We see water pollution, water loss, air pollution, fleets of massive trucks blocking narrow, windy mountain roads, myriad health problems in people and livestock, lights and noise all night, loss of property and property values, and then there’s climate change, already having an impact and slated to get much worse if we keep burning fossil fuels (in the case of natural gas the leakage of methane may be a worse problem than the emissions from the burning). We need to find better ways to heat our homes–cooking is rather minor. Notably, much better insulation so we don’t need nearly as much of any fuel source. In this area, with excellent hardwood everywhere, firewood is a good answer for many.

    2. the construction of this pipeline has nothing to do with you or anyone in West Virginia heating your homes or cooking your food; your home was being heated and your food was being cooked long before pipeline construction started…

      the purpose of this pipeline is to take gas out of West Virginia and ship it through Ohio and Michigan to Canada, from where it can be sold back into US interstate distribution pipelines without running afoul of any US utility regulations; this allows Energy Transfer Partners to profit with each transaction along the way…

      here’s the most recent record of our natural gas imports: see how much comes from Canada? that’s more than 10% of what we use…

      the companies drilling wells in West Virginia get less $2 per thousand cubic feet for their gas; by the time it gets back to the resident right down the road from the well, they’re paying more $10 per thousand cubic feet, often for the same gas..

      meanwhile, other US natural gas is being liquefied and shipped to China and Japan, to replace coal from Australia…over a 167 day heating season, the Sabine Pass export terminal alone is converting 534.4 billion cubic feet, or nearly one-quarter what we take out of storage each winter, into LNG to be shipped to Europe and Asia….the gas being sold to Europe and Asia is under contract, so they get it first; we get what’s left…i fear what will happen after all the LNG export facilities now under construction are brought online and also draw from that supply; there will be little left for us…

      the folly of all this is that we’re draining America first, at fire sale prices…when our resources are gone, your children and grandchildren will be freezing in the dark, paying whatever the Arabs or Russians think they can bleed out of them..

      1. I read something about that happening in Australia, I believe, where they signed contracts to deliver I think it was gas–then the supply ran low sooner than they expected and they were forced to sell for ten years at the agreed price, and buy some back at a much higher price. David Hughes is a geologist who studies fossil fuel reserves and has been putting out reports saying the estimates by the EIA are highly to extremely optimistic. Both Marcellus and Utica he rated as extremely optimistic, and they are supplying half the US’ gas now. So this is quite possible here, too. Now I don’t think MY children and grandchildren will freeze in the dark–not when there is so much high quality firewood around here and not if they have the sense to invest in solar panels soon, as I have.
        Yes, Rover is meant to deliver gas to Canada, Mountaineer Xpress feeds into Gulf Xpress to deliver gas to the Gulf, and MVP and ACP send the gas to the east coast, where it may not be exported–instead they may export the gas from current pipelines and replace it with the gas from MVP and ACP, so they can get away with eminent domain seizure of property.
        Why would all the relevant authorities federally and at the state level sign off on this if the pipelines are not needed domestically, may threaten our own energy independence, guarantee devastating climate change impacts as well as local harms from the drilling, fracking and piping (not to mention the planned petrochemical monstrosity)? Because corporations are NOT people, nor are they LIKE people–they’re like machines, they will pursue profit without concern for harm to others, and one of their most successful tactics is to bribe legislators and regulators. It’s all legal. Our regulatory agencies are all captured, their top personnel shuttling through revolving doors into industry positions.

        1. yes, what happened to Australia alarmed me as to what could happen to the US. they continue to sell Australian LNG to Japan at prices much lower than what Australian utilities in the eastern cities pay for their natural gas….my concern was heightened last winter, when our natural gas supplies stored underground fell from a record high in October to below normal by the end of winter, despite heating demand that was 17% below normal…this winter our natural gas supplies have fallen faster than any year this decade save the ‘polar vortex’ winter of 2014, even as we have averaged slightly above normal nationally… one seriously cold winter and we’re in trouble…

          federal and state ‘regulators’ are rubber stamps. no one is watching the store. each sector of our energy infrastructure operates independently of the others, all trying to maximize their own profits. and they’ve been hyping their own optimistic projections for so long that they actually believe their own hype…

    3. They will extract the gas and leave ruin behind. Just like they did with coal.

    4. You need to read what TJs writes 3 posts down from your Chad Gilbert. It is comprehensive.

  6. You seem to be reaching and trying to find a problem. Oil and gas contractors and the men and women who work on them put their lives in danger everyday to make sure your home is warm in the winter and you can cook your food. Have a little respect.

    1. Doddridge Resident

      Living in Doddridge County, no one has to reach to find a problem with what it is going on here.

      The oil and gas contractors and workers made a choice to work in this industry. Myself and others living in this community did NOT make a choice to to deal with the destruction of our roads, damage to our vehicles, the increasing air, noise & light, water well and stream pollution created by this process. Many living in this community are looking at decreased property values, increased health impacts, increased maintenance costs on vehicles and the loss of life as we knew it.

      People in this community are being sacrificed for the wealth of private corporations. Safety protocols at many of these sites could be a lot better. If they were, perhaps the string of accidents related to this industry would not be occurring. The incidents of pipe line explosions appear to be increasing. Many of these are occurring with pipelines that are relatively new.

      This is NOT a question of respect for the workers in these jobs, this is a question of the safety and well being of all of the people living and working in this region.

      I also know that the gas from this particular line, and the other high pressure, large diameter pipeline being installed here will NOT be heating my home or enabling me to cook my food. Gas in many of these lines is slated for export.

      If you are a contractor or worker in this area, I will continue to have you in my thoughts and prayers. And I will continue to hope that you remain safe.

      I ask that you and others show a bit more respect for the area residents. It is our lives that you are causing major disruptions to.

      I also appreciate that some people are willing to report on incidents like this. Too many of them remain hidden in the nooks and crannies of our hollars.

    2. Chad,
      When this pipeline is built and you’re not needed anymore, not only will you find yourself unemployed — it’s also going to cost MORE for you to heat your home and cook your food. Because this gas is being exported to Canada where it will be priced jacked and then shipped back into the U.S. and sold to YOU at a MUCH HIGHER PRICE. There are ramifications for this that you don’t seem to be able to see. This is working for you in the here and now — but tomorrow will come knocking at your door. What say you then?

  7. I work for the contractor and yes it is mess now but look at the hill on the other side how good it looks and if you want to talk about slip drive up rout 7 north of Newport Ohio and look at the slip from the rain and there is no pipeline around it

  8. I lived in west union for years. Currently in clarksburg. I drive a semi out here to the wells every day. I can remember before the well work was here. No jobs for anyone. Either the shop n save, dollar General, or senior center. I was on welfare, plus worked full time at Rescare in Salem. The wells saved me. Havnt been on any benefits for over 5 yrs now and my kids want for nothing… Obj and by the way, back then our roads were just as bad and we also had mudslides. Stop blaming everything on the wells and their workers. Some people are just mad they are not profiting from it. Also, these companies will and do hire locals IF you can pass a drug test. But see…. Drugs are more important to some then a job. Know what your talking about and get a life.

    1. Pixie, you are WAY off if you think opposition to these operations is about “jealousy” or drug use! I’m glad you’re now working–too bad in West Virginia the only decent paying jobs tend to be ones in destructive, extractive industries. This is not true in many of the places the coal and gas get shipped to, where people are entitled to demand jobs that pay well AND don’t threaten their health and safety, or harm the community. None of us commenting are on welfare, or unable to pass a drug test–we are people looking on with horror as we see the gas industry gearing up to do to northern West Virginia what the coal industry did to Southern West Virginia. Especially with the new petrochemical hub planned along the Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Huntington.

    2. Spot on!!

  9. The majority of these comments remind me of another I saw recently from someone in our state. “What good is clean water without jobs?”
    We need to be looking at the long view. This kind of construction and these kind of jobs are the same dead-end ones; the same mountain and valley landscape killing processes as we saw in mountaintop removal mining and strip mining. They bring a brief rush of employment [for pipelines, mostly out-of-state], reap profits that are only applied to the communities in a minor and superficial way, export the resource overseas, and leave our state languishing again without a diversified economy.
    We want the best for West Virginia. Our children will not be grateful for the sad legacy this leaves behind.

  10. Pipeline builders causing destruction of properties has been punished before, something for Rover to think about:

    In May 1996, the largest penalty in an environmental case since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Connecticut-based Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company will pay $22 million in criminal and civil fines for violating federal environmental and safety laws, the United States announced today. The violations stem from the construction of one of the country’s longest natural gas pipelines running 370 miles from Canada through upstate New York and Connecticut to Long Island. Backfill of the pipeline was one of the issues cited. 4 individuals also received jail time.

  11. OSHA was probably not called because there wasn’t a death. It is just a recordable injury on their OSHA 300 log. You need to study the laws before letting your thoughts run ahead. Most all of these operators go through severe pipeline hazard operator training before they get into a machine.

    1. Doddridge Resident

      Going thru severe pipeline hazard operator training before they get on a machine does not necessarily mean that the operator will be using what was learned or pressure from the employer will keep them from doing so.

      Emphasis and enforcement of work site safety practices often comes from the upper management of companies. If management is NOT enforcing safe practices, accidents will and do occur. Often times, employees are fearful of contacting OSHA because they are afraid of losing their jobs or are afraid that OSHA will shut a site down and they will lose income.

      Below is the link for OSHA

    2. Well said Blake

  12. Amen Mike H.
    I’m seeing similar rhetoric as “Friends of Coal” here. Well I prefer to be a friend of coal miners. Similarly with these pipelines, opposition to the industry doesn’t always mean opposition to the workers. I don’t think it is such a bad thing to wish for better working conditions, better job outlooks, and more diverse opportunities for our workers to choose from! It feels degrading to me to act like this is all they could do, or that they should be grateful for temporary, dangerous, and land destroying jobs. Let’s aim higher, better, brighter!

    1. Note: this was in reply to “Nancy the Pipeliner” comment

Comments are closed.

Send this to a friend