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Vandals burn holes in Dakota Access Pipeline

Vandals burn holes in Dakota Access Pipeline

The pipeline is poised to start moving oil as early as next week.

The last time we checked on the Dakota Access Pipeline, recovery crews were digging through mountains of garbage left by protesters and trying to find families for the dogs abandoned at the Standing Rock site by the evicted eco-activists.

President Trump put his pen to work, which moved both the Dakota and Keystone pipelines forward. the US State Department is putting the finishing touches on a permit for Keystone’s international structure.

Meanwhile, South Dakota and Iowa authorities are investigating the vandalism of the almost operational Dakota Access Pipeline.

The next activists who try to burn a hole through the Dakota Access pipeline may find that carbon pollution is the least of their problems.

The $3.8 billion project is expected to begin running oil this week, as authorities investigate two separate incidents of vandalism in Iowa and South Dakota involving holes torched in pipes located at above-ground valve sites.

No oil was flowing through the pipes, but if there had been, the consequences could have been disastrous, said Brigham A. McCown, former acting administrator of the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“If they had tried to utilize a torch to burn through the sidewall, they would have likely ignited the oil inside and been killed instantly,” said Mr. McCown, now an infrastructure consultant. “This is a serious safety issue and cannot be justified under any basis. Those responsible should face severe criminal penalties.”

The vandals may not be versed enough in real science to have realized that fuel, oxygen and an ignition source would have completed the fire triangle, leading to instantaneous global warming…for them.

The South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigations indicated it was considering the incident as an act of felony vandalism. Iowa officials were weighing charges of first-degree criminal mischief for anyone they determine was involved in the attack.

Environmental activists who were involved in disrupting some oil pipeline operations in four states last year to protest the construction now claim they aren’t responsible for the recent attacks.

The remarks came in response to allegations that Texas-based Dakota Access developer Energy Transfer Partners made in court documents late Monday. The company said there have been “recent coordinated physical attacks along the pipeline that pose threats to life, physical safety and the environment,” but did not say who was responsible for those alleged attacks.

…Jay O’Hara with the Climate Disobedience Center told the AP that Climate Direct Action wasn’t involved in any attacks against the pipeline, and he wasn’t aware of anyone claiming responsibility.

The pipeline is poised to begin moving oil early next week.

The company is finishing up construction under the Lake Oahe Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota – the last piece of work for the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois.

…Oil already is in parts of the line leading up to the lake. ETP says in court documents it’s likely to put oil under the lake next week.

Spokeswoman Vicki Granado said it would take about three weeks to get the oil to Illinois. At that point the pipeline would be considered fully operational.

The pipelines are will minimize the potential for transportation-related spillage, and their construction will do far more the save the environment than the garbage-infused, “Burning Man” protests and the vandalism.


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casualobserver | March 25, 2017 at 12:40 pm

Reading this does bring up a good question. We know activist are returning to the use of violence like in the 60s. Some are adopting actions more akin to terrorists, but maybe not so many. So how do you protect thousands of miles of pipeline? 100% surveillance whether by man or machine seems impractical. And there is nothing more valuable to the anti-pipeline folks than a report of a spill.

    DaveGinOly in reply to casualobserver. | March 25, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I’m betting they knew the pipes they damaged weren’t carrying oil. An environmental disaster caused by environmentalists would be a public relations disaster for the entire movement. If and when such a spill happens, it will be the work of loose cannons who don’t understand the optics of such an event.

    mrtoad21 in reply to casualobserver. | March 25, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    I had a neighbor who was a private pilot and everyday his 9-5 job was to fly from Joliet to Northern Wisconsin (Green Bay I think) back to Joliet checking a pipeline. I would assume every pipeline has something similar in remote areas.

      murkyv in reply to mrtoad21. | March 26, 2017 at 11:25 am

      I can attest to that. If we move an excavator to a jobsite anywhere near a Buckeye or Marathon pipeline without calling it in first, we will be getting a call from THEM.

      Even if we aren’t working anywhere near their easement, they sometimes have a man just sit in his truck for days, watching, to make sure we don’t get close.

This is arson or use of a WMB if the pipeline is full of oil.

    Tom Servo in reply to ConradCA. | March 26, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Oil would fry them, and they damn sure better not ever try cutting into a gas line under pressure. You can find pictures online, I’m thinking of one where a (deceased) backhoe operator didn’t pay any attention to where he was or the “warning – pipeline!” signs that were posted. The site looked like a 2,000 lb JDAM had gone off, complete with crater.


With all the money they’re spending on the pipeline, wouldn’t it seem prudent to spend a little on video surveillance cameras at the valve stations?

JackRussellTerrierist | March 25, 2017 at 1:30 pm

I hope the investigation is honing in on the perps and they each get about thirty years in prison.

Sounds like something an Earth Firster would do. They are infamous for putting spikes into trees to damage saws and killing people.

They should be charged with Domestic/Eco Terrorism. The bad part about people this stupid is they rarely kill/injure only themselves. If one of them wants to turn him/her self into so much human confetti I am fine with that, but they usually end up hurting the innocent as well.

First degree criminal mischief? People like this need the book thrown at them to discourage anyone else from doing this. 10-15 years in prison should do the trick.

Unknown3rdParty | March 25, 2017 at 9:01 pm

I can think of a few ideas:
> Just-in-Time construction: don’t leave parts–not even lengths of pipe–out to be stolen or damaged. Bring them in as needed, leaving everything in a well-lit, fenced, protected (re: armed guard) yard.
> Double-wall pipeline, with the inner wall supported on the outer wall by a non-conductive material, and a metallic outer wall that can be electrified (from the inside) and coated for protection from elements.
> Buried line, with the completed end protected by an armed guard and never unattended.
> High-resolution cameras mounted on a rotating platform above the pipeline, capable of reading license plates from a distance. For instance, the cameras on the SR-71 could read license plates from 90,000 feet.

    JIT (Just In Time) construction would have been great if the Obama Administration hadn’t made approvals in stages, and then tried to yank the rug out to appease the environmentalist wacko movement at the end.

    If I understand this correctly, the reason this thing wasn’t complete YEARS ago was that the work was partially complete, and then the Obama Presidency State Department refused to give a permit to clear the way for eminent domain to secure the easement rights for remainder. The Environmentalist-wackos since then have been howling, until the Trump Administration basically evicted them off the easement land, and the Trump State Department issued the permit.

    A motivated Eco-Terrorist is going to do damage to anything that isn’t VERY remote.

    Electrification (while I like it) is probably a bad idea. The power requirements alone for electrifying that length of pipe are cost-prohibitive, and it has bad optics if a unintentional discharge to a child occurs (see attractive nuisance doctrine).

    High-Res cameras are great (and getting less expensive), but there’s power and data transmission issues. You don’t want power lines ANYWHERE near a giant steel tube carrying flammable liquid under pressure if you can in any way avoid it (although it’s GOING to happen more and more). Also, there’s a electrical interference from electrostatic coupling, electromagnetic inductive, and conductive effects that have to be considered, as detailed in the following report:

I’d use a much harsher term than “vandalism”. I think the choice of words says a lot about the writer’s opinion of the oil business.

Char Char Binks | March 26, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Good, pollute the Indignians water. They have offended the Great Spirit.