George Washington’s view may be safe for now.
Dominion Energy is seeking an alternate location for the natural-gas facility it had planned to build in Charles County, Md., across the river from the first president’s former estate.
In separate statements, both Mount Vernon and Dominion said they would work to find a new site for the compressor station. Officials would not give additional details.
“We are working with Mount Vernon to evaluate alternatives to our current plans for Charles compressor station and to resolve the matter amicably,” Dominion spokesman Karl Neddenien said.
Mount Vernon launched a campaign last week against the Virginia energy company, saying the facility — which was intended to pump gas through a recently restored pipeline — would disrupt the property’s bucolic view of the Potomac and pose a threat to the environment.
Environmental groups, which also oppose the facility, said Tuesday that a different site would not address their safety concerns.
When it proposed building the compressor station on the Charles County site, Dominion insisted that its two exhaust stacks would be invisible from across the river. In an interview last week, Chet Wade, Dominion’s vice president of corporate communications, said the location was chosen because it had “the least impact on people and the surroundings” in this rural part of Maryland.
“You don’t really have a lot of freedom on where to place a facility like this,” Wade said of the location, which sits on the edge of Piscataway Park.
But Mount Vernon officials and environmental activists said the energy company had been misleading about the height of the exhaust stacks.
Two other Dominion compressors, in Loudoun and Fairfax counties, are already situated along the same pipeline.
The pipeline transports gas to Cove Point, an export station on the Chesapeake Bay, and to Washington Gas Light customers. Wade said a third facility is necessary in Maryland to pump an additional 300 million cubic feet of natural gas through the pipeline to serve more Washington Gas customers and a planned power plant in Brandywine.
Kelly Canavan, who founded AMP Creeks Council, a local environmental group fighting Dominion’s plans, said the compressor still poses a risk, regardless of whether it is relocated, and where.
“The new site might not be in the middle of wetlands, but it would certainly be near water and streams,” she said. “It’s still unacceptable for people anywhere.”
Dominion has received federal approval for the Charles compressor station, and Maryland is reviewing air and water permits for the project. It is unclear whether the company would need to reapply for federal approval for a new compressor site.
Dominion is also suing Charles County, which denied its requests for a special zoning exception to build the station.
Since fighting against plans for a sewage plant and an oil tank in the 1950s and 1960s, Mount Vernon has signed conservation agreements that limit construction on thousands of acres across the river in Maryland. Dominion has not signed any such agreements with Mount Vernon, the estate’s president, Doug Bradburn, said last month.