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Page 2 ■ Thursday, April 5, 2012


By CODY WINCHESTER For The Associated Press


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from South Dakota State University will help rural water systems better respond to oil spills. The study demonstrated that the oil

running through the Keystone pipeline probably would not corrode water lines in the event of a spill, though the oil did weaken the joint gaskets, where contami- nation would most likely occur. The goal of the research was to devel- op a design standard for casings where water lines cross oil pipelines. Rural wa- ter planners say it gives them a better idea of how much time they would have to respond after a spill. “The event of a crude oil spill is pretty

FORT PIERRE, S.D. — New research

hind the Keystone system, has said it will reapply.

Pipeline opponents claim that diluted bitumen derived from tar sands is more corrosive than conventional blends and so poses a higher spill risk. An industry study disputes this, but there is little in- dependent research on the subject.

unlikely, but in case it happens, we want to make sure there is a barrier between the spilled material and the water pipe- line,” said Delvin DeBoer, professor of environmental engineering at SDSU and director of the Regional Water System Research Consortium. DeBoer presented his fi ndings recently at the South Dakota groundwater quality conference in Fort Pierre.

The research was sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Environ- ment and Natural Resources and the pipeline safety division of the U.S. De- partment of Transportation. During the permitting process for rural water systems raised

Keystone, PO Box 5516

Bismarck, ND 58506-5516 701-223-2500 Bakken Weekly is produced

by the Bismarck Tribune and distributed throughout the Williston Basin.

“The event of a crude oil spill is pretty unlikely, but in case it happens, we want to make sure there is a barrier between the spilled material and the water pipeline.”

– Environmental Engineer Delvin DeBoer

concerns about crude leaks contaminat- ing their water supplies. The oil pipeline, which came online in 2010, crosses hun- dreds of rural lines in eastern South Da- kota. It also runs through eastern North Dakota.

about Keystone XL, a larger line that would cross western and south-central South Dakota — if it ever gets built. The Obama Administration denied Keystone XL a construction permit earlier this year. Trans-Canada, the company be-

Others have raised similar concerns

January, requires federal pipeline safety offi cials to complete such a study by mid-2013. There have been a dozen mostly small spills at pump stations that keep the crude fl owing through Keystone. But one of them, triggered when a valve broke at the Ludden pump station in North Da- kota, spilled about 20,000 gallons of oil, prompting the government to briefl y shut down the line while the company replaced the valves at all the stations. For their study, DeBoer and a gradu-

ate student, Dan Julson, fi lled short lengths of plastic pipe with water, capped the ends and submerged them in buckets of sand heavily saturated with oil. They also soaked rubber gaskets in

The Pipeline Safety Act, passed in

BAKKEN BREAKOUT WEEKLY Study could help water systems with oil

the rubber gaskets, raising the risk of oil permeating the pipe wall. It took several weeks for hydrocarbons to leach into the water through the pipe joints. For this and other reasons, the re-

searchers determined that jointless, fu- sion-bonded PVC pipe offers the best protection against contamination. The researchers used samples of three

kinds of oil representative of the batches fl owing through Keystone. That’s about all DeBoer could say about the samples, however, since the researchers had to sign confi dentiality agreements with TransCanada and the other company that provided the samples. He did say that two samples had a distinct odor of hydrogen sulfi de, which generally indi- cates a sourer blend. “That was a major effort, delayed us about six months, just getting the oil samples,” he said. The South Dakota Association of

Rural Water Systems commissioned DeBoer’s research. Dennis N. Davis, the group’s executive director, said Keystone posed a unique challenge because it overlays the water lines. “Typically, you want the (potential) pollutant below you,” he said. Davis said the SDSU research offers

guidance that should have come from TransCanada years ago. “What rural water systems have right

now is a good understanding of, if there is a leak, how much time they have be- fore it starts degrading the pipe,” Davis said. “In all cases, we have weeks of pro- tection time, probably, versus ... some of us had been concerned that we only had hours.” A Keystone offi cial said the company

has worked to ensure safety. “Keystone has worked with South

oil and tested them for weight gain and tensile strength. Water was used as a con- trol.

The pipes did well in compression and strength tests, but the oil weakened

Dakota’s Rural Water Systems to ensure crossings were safely designed and safely installed, and to ensure the mutual safety of our crews as we work in the vicinity of each other’s lines,” TransCanada spokes- man Jeff Rauh wrote in an email.

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