Some local Native American groups are unhappy about the owner of the Holtwood Dam allowing the controversial Atlantic Pipeline to be drilled under an Indian burial site near Conestoga.

 “How would you like to have someone drill under you mother’s or grandmother’s grave?” Mary Ann Robins, a Native American from Willow Street, asked a representative of Brookfield Renewable Energy Group, which owns the land on which the burial site is located.

Robins, a member of the Onondaga/Seneca Indian tribe and president of Circle Legacy Center, a local Native American nonprofit, said she is worried that gravesites could collapse because of the underground drilling.

The move dashed the hopes of anti-pipeline activists who were pressuring landowner Brookfield to deny permission to drill under the burial site that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Such a denial, activists say, could have delayed the pipeline project by several months.

The site is along one bank where the pipeline will be placed under the Conestoga River.

Brookfield announced Thursday it would amend a restrictive covenant on the property near Conestoga to allow Williams Partners to drill under the Conestoga River and the burial grounds of Susquehannock Indians.

According to the restrictive covenant, the area had been set aside as a place to plant trees along the Conestoga River “to assure that the conservation area, including its airspace and subsurface, will be retained in perpetuity in its natural condition to prevent any use of the conservation area that will impair or interfere with its natural resources functions and values.”

The restrictive covenant was created by former Holtwood Dam owner PPL as mitigation for expanding the dam onto natural areas.

But Tom Uncher, vice president of operations at Holtwood for Quebec-based Brookfield, said it made its decision after analyzing the route and consulting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that had selected the route as a preferred one.

“We have gained reassurance from information provided by the developer, the FERC and the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, that there would be minimal environmental and cultural impact, as well as minimal impact on local landowners in the plan to build their pipeline through a small portion of our property.”

Lancaster Against Pipelines had mounted a furious phone and petition campaign earlier in the week, urging Brookfield to not grant permission for the boring under the “Roberts” site.

“We contend that such a flagrant desecration of hallowed ground would never be permitted through a Christian cemetery or a U.S. war memorial,” the group said.

In January 2015, this same property was the site where eight local residents were arrested for blocking soil sample drilling on the property.

PPL offered to drop the charges in exchange for promises the demonstrators would not trespass on utility property in the future. The eight refused and were each fined $100 plus $150 in court costs.

Lancaster Against Pipelines said it would join with indigenous leaders in denouncing the drilling at its The Lancaster Stand encampment at 10 a.m. Saturday at 325 Conestoga Boulevard, Conestoga.

Responses to "Susquehannock Indian's burial site to be destroyed under Atlantic Sunrise pipeline"

Write a comment