The Vermont Public Service Board late Friday ordered Vermont Gas to halt construction of its natural gas pipeline extension along certain sections of the proposed route until the company submits a soil management plan.

Pipeline opponents say construction in the VELCO transmission line corridor will release a "hazardous" chemical lodged in the soil. The wood preservative used to treat utility poles, pentachlorophenol (PCP), has already appeared in one Monkton resident's water well near the pipeline route.

About 20 miles of the company's proposed pipeline extension through Addison County is located in the VELCO corridor. The company has begun staging construction for the 41-mile project to connect its service areas in Chittenden and Franklin counties to Middlebury.

Vermont Gas said it is drafting a soil management plan with the Agency of Natural Resources, according to a company filing with the board this week. The board said until the plan is complete, Vermont Gas cannot dig in the transmission corridor. The company can continue construction outside the corridor.

Vermont Gas received a certificate of public good to build the project in December. The company plans to build another pipeline from Middlebury to Ticonderoga, New York, and eventually to Rutland. These plans still need state and federal approval.

Vermont Gas officials were unavailable for comment when this story was published.


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