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Letter: Sandpiper Pipeline: A risk analysis

Does the proposed route for the Sandpiper Pipeline Route by North Dakota Pipeline Company LLC (NDPC) roughly 612 miles from Tioga, N.D. to Superior, Wis. via Hubbard County pose additional risks for our waters in the Park Rapids area? The answer is Yes! The proposed newcomer to the area introduces additional risk to our already vulnerable waters in the aquifers, groundwater, and also the fresh water lakes and rivers because of pipeline leaks. The following three items serve to illustrate the already susceptible waters in our area:

1. The new Park Rapids city well project due to nitrate levels which exceeded 10 ppm in 2009.

2. The new Straight River Pilot Groundwater Management Area Plan that a local advisory team is working on related to sustainable use of groundwater resources. The MN legislature created groundwater management areas as a tool for the DNR to address difficult groundwater-related resource challenges.

3. The recent oral testimony at the MN Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Public Information Meeting in Park Rapids on the Sandpiper Pipeline Route (March 23) by Bob Merritt, Licenses Professional Geologist. The experienced DNR Area Hydrologist with 32+ years of experience discussed the three major studies of the glacial outwash plain comprising the Straight River basin and surrounding areas. He states: “Because of their high degree of permeability, allowing rapid infiltration and movement, glacial outwash aquifers are some of the geologic environments most susceptible to contamination.” Using maps, he described potential leak scenarios and the associated risks. Read this public information at the PUC site: Select eDockets tab. Select Document ID 20143-97538-03 dated March 24.

The Sandpiper Pipeline Route is only open for our public comment until Friday, April 4 at 4:30 p.m. Although multiple groups have requested an extended comment period, and no one is giving up trying, the Minnesota Deptartment of Commerce / PUC has thus far refused all requests to extend the public comment period so all alternatives or other input must, as of now, still be submitted by the deadline. It is up to each of us to identify alternate routes that do not place our precious, limited fresh water resources at additional irrevocable risk. A website that I found helpful with scientific-based maps related to water with the pipeline route is www.friendsoft

See the PUC topics open for public comment and how to comment below. Info also at ties/Docket.html?Id=33599

I’ve also reviewed the Sandpiper Pipeline Route information at the Park Rapids Public Library. Our waters need us now!

Topics open for public comment:

n Are there any alternative routes or route segments that should be considered?

n What human and environmental impacts should be studied in the comparative

environmental analysis?

n Are there any specific methods to address these impacts that should be studied in the comparative environmental analysis?

Any person may propose an alternative route or route segment. The proposal must:

n Be clearly identified on maps or aerial photos.

n Include an analysis of human and environmental impacts – unless mostly the same as information NDPC provided.

Please Reference PUC Docket Number: PL6668 / PPL-13-474 in all communications.

Mail to Larry Hartman, Environmental Review Manager

Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA), Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 7th Place East, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55101 or email

After the public comment period the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will meet to decide which route alternatives to consider as options in the comparative environmental analysis and the hearings. This decision will likely be made in May 2014.

To learn more about the proposed Sandpiper Pipeline project you can go to the Department of Commerce Project website:

Select Jan. 31, 2014 Sandpiper Pipeline Project: Notice of Application Acceptance and Public Information Meetings for the project overview and comment details.

If you do not have Internet Access, the route permit application can be viewed at locations in communities crossed by the proposed pipeline. Check with your city clerk, county auditor, township clerk, or public library.

Sharon Natzel

Park Rapids