Lee County firms join forces to inspect pipeline

Another group has expressed interest inspecting construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

French Reneker Associates of Fairfield and Poepping, Stone, Bach and Associates Inc. of Keokuk presented a proposal to the Lee County Board of Supervisors during an informational meeting Tuesday at the sheriff’s office. The two organizations want to join forces to inspect the pipeline in the area of Iowa they know best.

“We’re familiar with the area and the type of farming done around here,” said Stephen Hausner, president of French Reneker.

The team also is concerned about some of the promises ISG, a Des Moines-based company that made a similar proposal to the county a few weeks ago. While ISG is telling counties it can inspect while the construction is over roads, the representatives said there is no wording to allow the counties to be reimbursed for those inspections.

“We want to make sure you don’t get a bill you’re not getting reimbursed for,” said Terry Knoke of Poepping, Stone, Bach and Associates.

Michael Purol of Poepping, Stone, Bach and Associates said when easement negotiations start for use of the roads, inspection negotiations also can be started.

All counties the pipeline is going through are obligated to appoint someone to inspect the construction. Costs of agricultural land inspectors will be covered by Energy Transfer Partners, which is installing the pipeline.

Supervisor Ron Fedler said he was glad to see a local institution come forward for Lee County.

“If we can keep projects in our county, it only benefits us,” he said.

French Reneker and Poepping, Stone, Bach also are teaming up to make sure they have enough inspectors. The installation is being separated into sections, and there is a possibly a section can begin and end in one county.

“We don’t really know how they’re going to build it, and we want to make sure we have enough staffing,” Knoke said.

The proposed $3.78 billion pipeline will go from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill., and transport crude oil through a 30-inch underground pipeline diagonally across Iowa.

The projected pipeline route would take a line through Lee, Van Buren, Jefferson, Wapello, Keokuk, Mahaska, Jasper, Polk, Story, Boone, Webster, Calhoun, Sac, Buena Vista, Cherokee, O’Brien, Sioux and Lyon counties in Iowa. Neighboring Illinois counties Hancock and Adams also are projected to carry part of the pipeline, and a pump station will be placed in Story County.

The pipeline would end at an oil refining hub in Patoka in southern Illinois. From there, the partially refined oil would be transported to Louisiana.

Thirty miles of the pipeline will pass through Lee County.

The pipeline is projected to attract up to 3,998 workers to Iowa and 2,482 to Illinois. It is projected to result in 15 permanent jobs in Iowa and 11 in Illinois.

The projected labor cost for the project is $229 million in Iowa and $157 million in Illinois, and the capital investment is $1.04 billion in Iowa and $753 million in Illinois.

Additional economic impact for Iowa includes $24.7 million per year in estimated property tax, an estimated $49.9 million in sales/income tax and $35.3 million in goods and services during the construction phase.

The construction sequence includes surveying and staking, front-end clearing, right-of-way grading, stringing pipe, bending pipe, initial welding, trenching, pipe coating and inspection, lowering pipe into the trench, backfilling, pressure testing of the pipe, cleanup and restoration.

Harold Winnie of the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration said each pipe will be tested for more pressure than what the pipe will handle every day.

Energy Transfer has about 71,000 miles of pipeline in the United States, which extend from Arizona to Florida and Texas to Michigan.

The last crude oil pipeline installed in Iowa was in the 1970s.