Property owners claim Williams is trespassing to repair line - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Property owners claim Williams is trespassing to repair line

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Two Marshall County property owners have sued Williams Ohio Valley Midstream LLC, claiming the company is trespassing on their properties to gain access to a pipeline that ruptured several weeks ago and is in need of repair.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Wheeling on behalf of Richard Vargo and Jade L. Goodnight, seeks unspecified damages as well as an order barring Williams Ohio Valley from entering or using any part of their property to work on pipelines situated on or under neighboring properties.

The complaint stated the line ruptured, April 4, catching fire and disrupting natural gas production in that area. The fire quickly was contained and Williams was able to re-route the gas to a larger pipeline it owns and operates nearby, though it flowed at a restricted rate.

The company currently is attempting to resume normal operations and wants to use the Vargo and Goodnight properties to continue working on the damaged pipeline.

The suit stated Williams has offered Vargo and Goodnight $100,000 to be able to use their residential properties to access neighboring parcels, but the offer was declined. Despite the pair’s refusal, the suit says the company has continued to use the properties to access the other sites, thereby demonstrating “a complete disregard for their property rights.”

Vargo owns 30.4 acres and Goodnight, 60 acres. Both parcels are in the Washington District of Marshall County.

The two landowners had signed a pipeline right-of-way agreement with Caiman in May 2010 and a landowner construction standards agreement in June, “(but) access across the property to locate, lay, operate, maintain, repair, replace, remove or connect a pipeline on or under any adjacent or adjoining parcels was never contemplated by or discussed among the parties in connection with the negotiation and execution of the agreement,” the suit said. “Further, despite a clear prohibition that Williams is not permitted to construct an access road on the right of way, it has done so when it excavated areas of the easement and constructed a corduroy road,” the suit alleged.

The pair claims Williams parked heavy equipment in such a way that it’s interfered with their access to their own properties and created “noise at unreasonable levels.”

“... (the) road is being used as a transport for equipment and personnel. … Williams’ misuse of the easement in this manner …. increases the burden upon the plaintiff’s property.”

In addition to a declaratory judgment, Vargo and Goodnight want an order barring the pipeline company from continuing work on a corduroy road.

Vargo and Goodnight are represented by Jonathan E. Turak of Gould, Khourey & Turak of Moundsville, and Daniel Guida of Guida Law Offices in Weirton.