Think industrial solar facilities are safe?


To the Editor:

Think industrial solar facilities are safe? They’re not. The preliminary engineering report for the Dogwood plant on Dam Acres Road states that during and after construction, wells located as far as 10 miles away could be at risk.

And there’s more: the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has reevaluated the rules regarding commercial solar installations. As of March 29, the DEQ considers them impermeable, subject to the same requirements as permanent buildings, with significantly more stringent requirement to manage flooding and run off in terms of both the quantity and quality of water. This is good news, since solar plants often have significant problems of flooding on adjacent areas. This mean that the solar plant approved for Dogwood on Dam Acres Road in Stanley will require a completely new site plan. We are just plain lucky that the project didn’t stay on the original timetable for completion.

Additionally, the first draft of the engineering report for Dogwood site (supervisors from Districts 3, 4 and 5 voted in favor of the solar factory) shows major problems, primarily because of the karst topography, which is very fragile and prone to sinkhole development. The engineering report state sinkhole development may mean that all wells within 10 miles should be tested because they may be at risk. This is because karst geology features underground waterways that head in different directions.

If you live in Districts 3, 4 or 5, ask your supervisors why he didn’t do his homework or listen to members of the public who expressed concern about the many unknowns and unanswered questions about industrial solar, particularly on fragile karst topography. Why did these supervisors play Russian Roulette with our water?

The industrial solar plant on Route 340 North, Cape Solar, is also on karst topography, with sinkholes and sinkhole formations on and adjacent to the site, five of them under or next to Route 340 North. If these open up, they can take out the road — and damage wells throughout the area.

This project must be denied. Our water and our roads are too valuable to risk.

As the Planning Commission begins to finalize a solar ordinance, it is important to deny any application that is sited on karst terrain. It is just too fragile and the effects on underground waterways — and the aquifer itself — can be catastrophic.

This time, we must have a good ordinance that protects Page County.

Cathy Herbert ~ Luray, Va.

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1 Comment

  1. Sinkholes, sinkholes, sinkholes!
    The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Run for your lives!!
    Sinkholes can be repaired. There are three methods of doing so.
    The land will be more stable than it was before, if it was even very unstable in the first place.
    And solar panels don’t cause damage from rainwater runoff. Bad, low bid, unsupervised site preparation is the cause.
    Route 340 will not be swallowed into the earth. People living at the earth’s core will not invade us.

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