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A $3.78 billion pipeline through Iowa

By Staff | Dec 12, 2014

NORTHWEST IOWA – Residents of Lyon, O’Brien and Sioux counties turned out by the hundreds to public meetings on Dec. 1 and 2 to learn more about a proposed $3.78 billion, 1,134-mile oil pipeline set to carry sweet crude oil from North Dakota to a hub near Patoka, Illinois.

Initial reaction from affected landowners was they preferred the pipeline did not exist but acknowledged that overall it may be good for the country. They preferred an ungrounded pipeline to an above-ground facility.

The Dakota Access Pipeline Project, or DAPL, would be constructed and operated by Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Co.

According to company officials, it will carry sweet crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil fields in northwest North Dakota to the southern Illinois crude oil hub.

From there, it would be sent to refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast.

The pipeline would be built and operated by Dakota Access LLC, which owns and operates 71,000 miles of pipeline, according to its website.

The Iowa Utilities Board, which has jurisdiction over pipelines in the state, is hosting informal public information meetings this month in each of the 18 counties through which the proposed pipeline would run. Eleven of those counties are within the Farm News’ coverage area – Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Sac, Calhoun, Webster, Boone, Story and Polk.

In January, the IUB will hold a more formal public hearing in each of the project counties regarding the pipeline’s route and the permits Dakota Access must obtain for the project.

It’s during those structured hearings that the board will take questions and on-the-record statements from affected property owners.

The IUB said it will likely decide whether to permit the project shortly after those hearings conclude.

$630 million

According to Dakota Access, the pipeline project would mean a $3.78 billion investment for the company, with $630 million of it to be spent in Iowa.

Company officials told those attending the Lyon, Sioux and O’Brien county meetings that the pipeline would travel 342 miles in Iowa, through 18 counties as it runs from the northwest corner in Lyon County on a nearly straight diagonal line to Lee County in the Iowa’s southeast corner.

That’s where the pipeline will enter Illinois, near the hub.

From there it would be sent by other pipelines to refineries, mostly along the Gulf Coast.

Adam Broad, a senior project manager for Dakota Access, assured his audience that the oil would not leave the United States. He said that when the pipeline is completed, it would be filled with water and tested at a pressure 25 percent greater than it will have with oil flowing through it.

Gregory Ochs, a senior engineer and operations supervisor for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said that his department would make sure the 30-inch pipe is installed at the proper depth – 36 inches deep in most spots, 48 inches deep on ag land – and at appropriate depths as it runs beneath creeks and rivers of various sizes.

He said the pipe is specially coated for longevity.

“And, we’ll do annual testing of the pipeline valves,” Ochs said, “to make sure the pipeline doesn’t exceed its allowed pressure.”

In addition, he said, the employees will be required to be tested for drugs and alcohol at various intervals with no prior notice.

Audiences were encouraged to ask questions and comment after presentations, but to save questions about their particular property for the formal IUB hearings set for January.

If all goes well, construction could begin in the first quarter of 2016, Broad said.

Reactions to the various presentations were mixed.

Claudia and John Stensland were studying the pipeline route map at a display.

They live on a farm in Sloan that has two pipelines crossing it, one carrying anhydrous ammonia and the other natural gas, as well as AT&T lines running overhead.

They were compensated once for damages after the anhydrous leaked. But, Claudia Stensland said, they also own the farm their son works in Story County, where the sole oil pump station will be built. She had asked during the meeting whether Dakota Access is American-owned and said she was pleased when told that it is.

“It’s for the good of the country,” she shrugged. “But I don’t think there’s a soul in here that wants it.”

Maria Rundquist came to the meeting with several fellow Sierra Club board members from Sioux City.

She asked if the pipeline would run above or below ground.

“Both are dangerous,” she said. “Below is better, but we are concerned about our water quality.”

She said she had lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, where oil pipes were above ground and had frequent spills.

Mike Weckman, of Urbandale, a leader of the Laborers International Union of North America Local No. 353, which represents workers in 32 counties, asked how the crews working the pipeline project would be assigned. He was told the workers would be spread 600 in each of three areas.

Scott Louscher, of Paullina, said after the meeting, “It’s probably for the betterment of society. I think (the company) will take care. I believe it’s safer underground.”

Dakota Access Pipeline at a glance

  • Total project: 1,134 miles long.
  • 343 miles in Iowa.
  • $3.78 billion project.
  • $630 million to be spent in Iowa.
  • 30-inch pipe diameter.
  • It will flow up to 570,000 barrels per day.
  • U.S. sweet crude oil only (from Bakken and Three Forks fields).
  • Route: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois.
  • 24/7 monitoring.
  • One above-ground pumping station in Iowa’s Story County.
  • Frees seven unit trains per day to haul farm commodities to market.

Visit these sites for maps of proposed pipeline and other information.

To view a map showing the entire pipeline route visit www.energytransfer.com/documents/DAPL-States-Counties.pdf.

To view a map of the route through Iowa only visit www.energytransfer.com/documents/DAPL-Iowa-Mapbook-= map of pipeline route through Iowa.

To learn about the Iowa Utilities Board visit www.state.ia.us/iub.

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