Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, shown here near its Missouri River crossing in 2016, “imperils tribal welfare, and the DAPL capacity expansion will dramatically exacerbate that peril,” the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe submitted to the North Dakota Public Service Commission. Photo by Talli Nauman / Native Sun News Today

Standing Rock seeks hearing to deny DAPL bid to double oil flow

LINTON, N. D. – In submissions for a hearing November 13, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe asked the North Dakota Public Service Commission to deny Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) operators’ request to double the flow pressure in the fracked oil conduit.

“Doubling the throughput of a pipeline that already poses a grave threat to the water the tribe drinks, the sacred sites where tribal members pray, and the hunting, fishing, and plant gathering practices that are integral to the tribe's way of life would have a profoundly adverse impact on tribal members,” Standing Rock said in a brief.

The pipeline company seeks permission to double its capacity to 1.1 million barrels a day by adding five 6,000-horsepower electric-motor pumps at its station five miles west of this town in Emmons County, just across the Missouri River from the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation.

“A few miles upstream from the Emmons County pump station is the DAPL crossing at Lake Oahe. The waters of Lake Oahe are critical to the welfare of tribal members,” the tribe said. “The DAPL Oahe crossing imperils tribal welfare, and the DAPL capacity expansion will dramatically exacerbate that peril,” it said.

The youth brought a powerful voice to the NO DAPL EXPANSION public hearing on Weds November 13th. Thank you for staying for over 12 hours to speak your mind and stand up for the water.

Posted by Standing Rock Youth Council on Saturday, November 16, 2019

Applicants, who transport oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Formation to Illinois, state that the capacity expansion "will not alter the existing maximum operating pressure of the DAPL,” or Dakota Access Pipeline.

However, surges, or changes in pressure, commonplace on hazardous liquid transmission lines such as this, can cause them to burst, and the company has provided no surge analysis in its application, the tribe’s engineering consultant Richard Kuprewicz warned.

DAPL capacity expansion would result in actual flow velocities within the 30-inch mainline pipe in excess of 15 feet per second. “This is an extremely high velocity for crude oil, especially for a large diameter pipeline such as DAPL,” Kuprewicz testified.

Such high velocities can rapidly cause prohibited surge overpressures of more than 110 percent of maximum operating pressure within microseconds, he noted.

Another tribal witness, pipeline safety expert Donald Holmstrom, pointed out that Dakota Access corporate parent, Energy Transfer LP, has the worst hazardous liquid safety record in the industry over the past 13 years.

In recent months, its pipelines have caused a number of high-profile release incidents, prompting unprecedented government enforcement actions, shutdowns and remedial actions, according to Holmstrom.

As of December 3, 2018, DAPL had experienced 12 spills of more than 6,100 gallons of Bakken crude oil in its less than two years of operation. But that is just a small fraction of the many hazardous liquid incidents across Energy Transfer LP's pipeline portfolio, he noted.

According to a database maintained by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, from 2006 to 2018, Energy Transfer pipelines suffered 458 hazardous liquid incidents, resulting in nearly $110 million in property damage from more than 2.5 million gallons spilled, “making Energy Transfer far and away the most hazardous pipeline operator across that 13-year period,” he said.

The second most hazardous pipeline operator over that period experienced 45 percent fewer liquid spills than Energy Transfer, according to his research.

Since DAPL went into operation in 2017, Energy Transfer LP company-wide hazardous liquid spills have resulted in more than $20.5 million in property damage, prompting “unprecedented regulatory enforcement action,” he added.


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