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… due to the proximity to Bismarck, the North Bismarck route alternative crossed through or in close proximity to several wellhead source water protection areas that are identified and avoided in order to protect areas that contribute water to municipal water supply wells… Drinking water intakes located downstream from the Missouri River and Lake Oahe crossings could be at risk if there was a release that reached these bodies of water in the vicinity of the intake structures. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is located south of the Lake Oahe Project Area and the majority of reservation residents depend on wells for water supply ” (Dakota Access EA, July 2016, prepared by Dakota Access itself, for the Army Corps of Engineers).
Greenpeace Oil spill in ice
Ice conditions make oil spill cleanup difficult to impossible.

In the video below, Congressman Grijalva points out the shocking fact that Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline route was chosen, at least in part, so that an oil spill would not endanger the water supply for the city of Bismarck, but rather endanger the Standing Rock Sioux water supply. (Piping leaks, almost by definition. That’s why your plumber may be the richest person you know – wealthier than many CEOs. Dakota Access EA doesn’t even deny this, but say they will bring bottled water, or whatever.)

Some American Indian Tribes already have to truck in, pipe in, or travel distances to get water due to pollution from uranium mining. Most Americans would find this unacceptable. Why is it acceptable for the first inhabitants? Water is necessary for life.

Why is the nuclear industry allowed to wantonly discharge radioactive materials into water from operating nuclear reactors and throughout the entire nuclear fuel chain? It’s not just during accidents for them. Heavy rains just resulted in a major dump of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear site into the Pacific ocean. But, discharge of radioactive waste into waterways, including the Great Lakes, is routine even for operating reactors. Why are the Sioux having to fight against more uranium mining, as well as the oil pipeline?

(NB: Congressman Grijalva’s father immigrated to the US when it was easier for people from Mexico to do so legally, and less easy for those with no need for asylum, no cultural, no geographic, no historic nor marriage ties to the Americas to do so (e.g. India; China.)

Excerpts, with some commentary, from the over 1200 page long: “MITIGATED FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE PROJECT WILLIAMS, MORTON, AND EMMONS COUNTIES, NORTH DAKOTA” written by Dakota Access for the US Army Corps of Engineers (The US should shut down all of its urban and regional planning schools and give grads their money back with punitive and any other damages, since corporations are writing these studies out front now.):

This EA was prepared by Dakota Access on behalf of the Corps in compliance with the NEPA Act of 1969; the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations (40 CFR 1500-1508); Corps of Engineers Regulation ER 200-2-2 (33 CFR Part 230), and related environmental compliance requirements, including the Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106)…
In addition to the criteria shown in the tables, due to the proximity to Bismarck, the North Bismarck route alternative crossed through or in close proximity to several wellhead source water protection areas that are identified and avoided in order to protect areas that contribute water to municipal water supply wells. The route was also severely constrained by the North Dakota Public Service Commission’s 500-ft residential buffer requirement at multiple locations. Furthermore, this route alternative crossed other populated PHMSA high consequence areas (HCAs), that are not present on the preferred route. Pipeline safety regulations use the concept of HCAs to identify specific locales where a release from a pipeline could have the most significant adverse consequences…
” [If you look at Table 2-1 p. 9, it seems that development isn’t that much greater for the north of Bismarck alternative, though their comparisons aren’t really worth a heap of beans. Apparently north of Bismarck is three times more developed, but this doesn’t really tell anyone much. It also supposes that value of urban-suburban life is greater than rural value of life, i.e value of life is based on population density. Also, it supposes that the value of life in urban-suburban Bismarck is greater than on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.]
Table 2-1 p. 9 Dakota Access EA

Additionally, Dakota Access would take measures described in Dakota Access’ SPCC, SWPPP (Appendix A), and ECP (Appendix G) to minimize the potential for surface water contamination from an inadvertent spill of fuel or hazardous liquids during refueling or maintenance of construction equipment or during operation of aboveground facilities. Fuel and all other hazardous materials would be stored in accordance with the requirements of Dakota Access’ SPCC, SWPPP, and ECP. These documents also describe response, containment, and cleanup measures.

Drinking water intakes located downstream from the Missouri River and Lake Oahe crossings could be at risk if there was a release that reached these bodies of water in the vicinity of the intake structures. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is located south of the Lake Oahe Project Area and the majority of reservation residents depend on wells for water supply (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, 2016). However, the Standing Rock Sioux also have intake structures within the river downstream of the Lake Oahe Project Area.” [However? However makes no sense here. If the Standing Rock Siouz have secondary water intakes downstream, then these too are endangered!]

In order to maintain the integrity of the pipeline, prevent Project losses, and protect the general public and the environment, the operator will inspect, exercise, and deploy Company-owned protective and response equipment in accordance with the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) guidelines.

However, in the unlikely” [LIKELY] “event of a pipeline leak, response measures to protect the users of downstream intakes will be implemented to minimize risks to water supplies. Dakota Access would be responsible party for implementing the response actions in accordance with Geographical Response Plan (GRP) and the Facility Response Plan (FRP). The potential for a spill to compromise a potable water supply intake would be continually evaluated as part of the response action.” [How is evaluating a solution? It is not, other than shutting off intake!] “Alternative sources would be included as part of the contingency planning. Shutting down certain intakes and utilizing others or different drinking water sources or bottled water will be evaluated as part of this process. The Federal On-Scene Incident Commander (USEPA) would be responsible for assimilating and approving the response actions under the Unified Command. Dakota Access maintains financial responsibility for the duration of the response actions. The Dakota Access has prepared a FRP that includes measures such as notifications to surrounding communities, affected governments, and utilities in the event of an inadvertent pipeline release.” [What good is notification? Where the F are people supposed to go? Why should they?]

The FRP complies with the applicable requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), and has been prepared in accordance with the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) and the Mid-Missouri Sub-Area Contingency Plan (SACP). Specifically, this Plan is intended to satisfy the applicable requirements of:

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation requirements for an OPA 90 plan (49 CFR 194)  South Dakota Environmental Protection Oil Pipeline Plan Requirements (34A-18). American Petroleum Industry (API) RP 1174 – Recommended Practice for Pipeline Emergency Preparedness and Response.  North Dakota Administrative Code 69-09-03-02

[ALERT: Mega-loophole]
The operator has contractually secured personnel and equipment necessary to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst case discharge or a substantial threat of such discharge.

[Now there is the mega-loophole to boot! “[T]o the maximum extent practical”!]

The operator requires an annual certification from each Oil Spill Response Organization (OSRO) to assure compliance with the National PREP guidelines. Each listed OSRO has its own response equipment, including containment booms, absorbents, boats, and vacuum trucks.

Sub-freezing temperatures during the winter months could cause ice to form on the surface of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. This layer of ice could impede the deployment of traditional containment booms“. (pp. 38-39)

Subsequent to an oil spill, last year, into the Yellowstone River, the US EPA noted:
Long-term cleanup activity will focus on identifying and collecting oil in the river, which has been challenging due to extensive ice cover in the river at and below the spill location.https://www.epa.gov/region8/bridger-pipeline-release

Thus, the US EPA and common sense tell us that the Dakota Access EA is deceiving people when they say: “However, the ice itself often serves as a natural barrier to the spread of oil (Dickens 2011). Pockets of oil naturally contained by the ice can be drilled to and removed using vacuum trucks. Dakota Access’s contracted professional emergency responders are prepared to respond under winter conditions so that response procedures can be carried out in accordance PHMSA operational regulations. Therefore, a release during winter conditions is anticipated to have lesser impacts to water resources, particularly with respect to area of extent, as compared to a release during the warmer months.“(p. 39)

Sinkhole Risk

The karst can lead to sinkholes, but also increase spread of oil spills over wider areas, as the oil can disappear into one hole and come out elsewhere – such is the nature of karst.

Karst and Subsidence

Geologic terrane beneath the flowage easements as well as the Connected Actions has potential for karst development owing to the presence of evaporite deposits, consisting of gypsum, salt, anhydrite, and/or potash (Weary and Doctor, 2014).

These deposits range in age from Devonian to Jurassic and occur at depths ranging from 900 to 3,700 meters (3,000 to 12,000 feet). Fresh water must be present for the necessary dissolution to occur for karst development. However, since fresh water is not likely to be found at these depths, dissolution and karst development are not likely to occur (Ackerman, 1980). Even if karst conditions were to develop, any physiographic expression at the ground surface would be negligible given the great depth of these formations.” [A river is fresh water and has aquifers connected into the land.]

Geologic terrane beneath the federal lands crossings as well as the HDD workspaces at Lake Oahe area may have potential for karst development due to deposits of gypsum and other evaporates (Weary and Doctor, 2014). However, a review of topographic and aerial photographic coverages as well as geotechnical testing gave no indication of karst feature development, and no documentation was found to indicate that karst features have actually developed in this area.” [Is there documentations saying that there are no karst features?] “Furthermore, an existing buried pipeline and overhead electric transmission line also cross in this location, and no information was found indicating those utilities have been impacted by karst.” [Did they look? How hard?]

Land subsidence may be caused by mining, underlying karst features, and extraction of fluids, such as oil or groundwater. No surface subsidence effects are expected to be incurred in the Project Area since no mines, oil/gas wells, water wells, or karst development have been identified in the Project Area.

Moreover, despite the fact that oil and gas production has occurred for decades in the Williston Basin, no surface subsidence effects have been documented in that area and, therefore, are not expected to impact the Project Areas within or near the margin of the Williston Basin.” (p. 27) And, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah for over 1200 pages. Needless to say, the author of this blog post didn’t read this over 1200 page document in its entirety. If you choose to read this document, in its entirety, you will almost certainly be the very first: http://cdm16021.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getdownloaditem/collection/p16021coll7/id/2801/filename/2802.pdf/mapsto/pdf