Prince Frederick, MD – A recent traffic stop by police and the handling of an overnight road accident involving a work truck have given opponents of a multi-billion dollar project at a local gas plant more grist for the mill. During the Tuesday, June 9 meeting of the Calvert County Commissioners two Cove Point Beach residents expressed their concerns regarding the two incidents.

The ongoing construction of a liquefaction unit at Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant in Lusby will give the facility the capability to export natural gas to foreign nations. The project is expected to be completed by 2017.

On Monday, June 8 at approximately 1:40 a.m. a concrete truck owned by Chaney Enterprises was traveling westbound on Cove Point Road. According to the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, the driver reported that an animal ran out in front of the truck.

The driver—identified as Edward Tolson of Waldorf, swerved to miss hitting the animal, then overcorrected, causing the truck to overturn and strike a utility pole. Tolson was transported to Calvert Memorial Hospital to be treated for his injuries.

The sheriff’s office reported charges were pending as a result of the accident.

Local resident June Sevilla told the commissioners that the accident blocked the road for several hours, putting the safety of nearby residents in jeopardy. The work truck accident, said Sevilla, is proof that Cove Point Road as an escape route should an emergency occur at the plant “is clearly not sufficient.”

Sevilla speculated that the driver involved in the accident could have been fatigued, adding that “we’ve heard they are working them [project laborers] like dogs.”

“Safety is the top priority at Dominion and for everyone engaged in the liquefaction project,” stated Dominion Cove Point LNG Media Relations and Community Relations Manager Karl R. Neddenien, when told of Sevilla’s comments. “Our record shows this.”

Sevilla also stated that the large volume of huge dump trucks crossing the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge is also a safety concern, as the big vehicles cause the bridge “to wobble.”

Another local resident, Leslie Garcia, stated that she was hosting visitors who traveled to Cove Point Beach Sunday, May 31 in vehicles with out-of-state license tags. Garcia said her guests were told “you don’t belong here” by deputies from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office who pulled the vehicles over and subsequently conducted searches without the motorists’ consent.

Garcia stated that the police presence included deputies dressed in SWAT Team uniforms and the head of security for Dominion Cove Point. Sources close to the story have stated the motorists were in the area to participate on a walk on Cove Point Beach as a show of opposition to the plant project.

“They [police] knew they [protesters] were coming,” said Garcia, who added this was not the first time area residents were harassed by sheriff’s deputies and Dominion employees.

The traffic stop resulted in the arrest of one of the motorists, identified in court documents as Kaitlyn Anne Rorke, 29 of Baltimore, who was charged with two counts of controlled dangerous substance (CDS) possession. Rorke has maintained that the drugs were her prescription medications. However, police contend that Rorke had no way of proving to them at the traffic stop scene that the meds were lawfully prescribed to her. A hearing on the drug charges is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 4 in district court.

Noting that sheriff’s deputies have lanyard-attached identification badges that indicate they are Dominion employees, Garcia labeled the dual identity “corporate/government collusion.”

Captain Steve Jones told The Bay Net last week that deputies are wearing the Dominion badges so that they have access to the plant and are providing security.

“It’s being addressed,” said Commissioner Mike Hart [R – District 1], who resides a short distance from the Cove Point area. Hart praised Jones for his work in trying to maintain calm in the Cove Point area. The commissioner assured Garcia that the board would continue to look into all the residents’ concerns.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com