Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Union blows whistle on pipeline contractor

The US Department of Transportation is swatting ExxonMobil with a million dollar penalty after the Environmental Protection Agency released an overview of cleanup efforts in the aftermath of the 2011 breach of the Silvertip pipeline that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River upstream of Billings, Montana.
The Laborers International Union of North America plans to urge North Dakota regulators to reject a pipeline from Bridger Pipeline LLC, the same company responsible for an oil spill in the Yellowstone River this year. The same union organization recently showed support for a different crude oil pipeline proposed by Dakota Access LLC. Black Hills Trucking has been fined by North Dakota regulators for improperly dumping produced water and for operating without a permit. [Casper Star-Tribune, link added]
Pipeline accidents involving crude oil grew 87 percent from 2009 to 2014.
At least 73 incidents occurred last year, including the Bridger Pipeline LLC failure at Poplar. Almost half the incidents in the past five years involved pipelines installed more than 40 years ago. [Rob Chaney, The Missoulian]
Water crossings where ice floes bash moorings and flooding causes scouring of fill from river bottoms are particularly vulnerable to failures.
Eight months before the spill, the Army Corps of Engineers seemed the most likely agency to help repair the eroding riverbanks. "Their response back to us was that should there be an imminent danger then (they) would respond," said Olson, "unfortunately, when you have a flood, imminent danger signs are too late." [Laurel Voiced Pipeline Concerns Well Before Spill]
The corps have been very quiet about a breach under its purview. Wouldn't Exxon have had to consult with the corps before restarting the pipeline and how could they not have known the potential for scouring on a flooding Yellowstone River?

A Minnehaha County judge ordered nearly two dozen landowners who oppose the Dakota Access pipeline project to stand aside and allow developers to case their properties for condemnation.
Metal pin flags used to mark the pipelines so excavators can safely work in the area are often left behind, creating hazards for cattle when the metal winds up in hay bales. Currently, the law says excavators need to remove pipeline flags or other markings “when possible,” but after Aug. 1 the requirement will be to remove the markings “upon completion of the excavation.”
Read it here.
Indigenous Environmental Action (IEN), an international non-profit based in Minnesota also is intervening against the Dakota Access Pipeline in South Dakota. IEN opposes the proposals for Keystone XL, Enbridge Line 13, and Albert Clipper pipelines. [Talli Nauman, Native Sun News]
TransCanada has spent well over $100,000 getting its KeystoneXL ecocide into the veins of teevee users.
SD [Public Utilities Cartel] Commissioner Kristie Fiegen cited a conflict of interest in the matter because her extended family owns land in Spink County where the pipeline is proposed. In her place, Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed State Treasurer Rich Sattgast to be an acting commissioner in the matter. [Dickinson Press]
South Dakotans are concerned that out of state pipeline companies are abandoning environmental protection for profits.
TransCanada staff began visiting landowners four years ago, trying to strike deals and avoid court battles. That didn’t work with John Harter in Winner, S.D. The rancher says TransCanada offered him a one-time payment of $13,300 to snake the line across a half-mile of his 280-acre cattle pasture. Harter demanded an additional $70,000 annually to compensate for the fact that he wouldn’t be able to graze his herd on the land for several years. The company refused his request and instead filed a lawsuit to seize the land through eminent domain, arguing the access to Harter’s land is worth just over $6,000. “They’re doing it with no regard to human life, let alone the earth,” complains Harter, whose case will be heard by a state court in June. [Ranchers Tell Keystone: Not Under My Backyard]
Less than 3 percent of 8,000 acres in Iowa affected by a proposed pipeline has been surveyed by a professional archaeologist. The US Army Corps of Engineers are just required to perform archaeological surveys on 16 of the 17 major river and stream crossings.
Energy Transfer Partners spokesman Chuck Frey told North Dakota's Public Service Commission Thursday that 56 percent of the easements needed along the North Dakota route have been obtained. The company wants to build the 1,100-mile pipeline to move 450,000 barrels of North Dakota crude daily to Illinois. The $3.8 billion pipeline also would pass through South Dakota and Iowa.
Read it here.
Iowa’s state archaeologist contends the proposed Bakken Pipeline carrying crude from North Dakota to Illinois should face the same scrutiny as a state project with potential to disrupt archaeological sites. A public agency, such as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or the Iowa Department of Transportation, would be required in such a project to test land for archaeological significance, wrote John Doershuk, director of the Office of the State Archaeologist, in a May 22 letter to the Iowa Utilities Board. “If this were an Iowa DOT or DNR project, the entire area of potential effect would be included in requirements for archaeological compliance and (the Bakken Pipeline) should be subject to the same level of scrutiny to which we hold Iowa agencies,” he wrote. Dallas-based Energy Transfer requested a permit from the Iowa Utilities Board for its subsidiary Dakota Access LLC to build the Bakken Pipeline for crude oil, which would cut diagonally across 343 miles in Iowa. [The Dickinson Press]
Meade County in South Dakota is facing charges of desecrating burial sites when excavators besmirched sacred lands adjacent to Mato Paha (Bear Butte) for another road through Indian Country.

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