Posted 8/02/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
A public hearing on a Hess-owned oil pipeline south of Tioga brought out only one public comment, which was in favor of the pipeline.
The Public Service Commission of North Dakota held the hearing Tuesday of last week in order to get public input on the project, as part of the process for approval of Hess’s application for corridor compatibility, route permit, and waiver of procedures.
The hearing was administered by administrative law judge Pat Ward in lieu of the commissioners, who did not attend.
Evan Whiteford, of Ray, was the only member of the public to speak at the hearing.
Whiteford was representing Laborers International Union of North America, a labor union representing about 500,000 construction workers in a variety of industries throughout the country.
Whiteford said he worked in pipeline construction for over nine years all over the country.
He praised Hess on their commitment to safety. He said his experience working on Hess projects has been among the best.
“They spare no expense on safety. Their safety is top notch, bar none,” he said.
He said the union is in full support of the project.
“We’d like to see it go,” he said.
Whiteford said the impact on jobs is minimal, but the need is particularly high with the low commodity prices greatly reducing industry activity in North Dakota.
“For the people who live and work in the area, we need to see this move forward,” he said.
Murray Jackson, project manager with Hess, explained the pipeline, which is just over one mile in length, will connect the Ramberg Truck Facility with the new Energy Transfer Partners facility north of it.
The new facility is part of the 30-inch Dakota Access Pipeline, which will be over 1,100 miles in length when complete, running from the town of Stanley to Illinois.
Jackson said the Hess pipeline will provide a means to export oil from North Dakota other than by rail and truck.
The Ramberg Truck Facility is a storage facility, where trucks offload oil from wells around the area. The pipeline will facilitate the transport of this oil to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
All right-of-way permits for the pipeline have been secured with the three landowners in the area, Jackson said.
The project will cost $4.6 million to construct and is expected to begin at the end of August, subject to PSC approval, and should be complete by the end of October.
Jackson said during construction, top soil and subsoil will be separated to maintain the topsoil during the reclamation process after construction is complete.
A third-party contractor will be monitoring the construction to ensure compliance with regulations.
The pipeline crosses one waterway and it will be bored under the water to minimize impacts during construction.
Environmental studies were done on the area to ensure the pipeline could be constructed and operated with minimal impacts to the environment, Jackson testified.
This included avian studies for any impacts to birdlife.
Jackson testified the whooping crane could be impacted, and the construction crews will be trained to identify that bird. Should one be spotted, all construction is required to stop until all of the cranes leave the area.