Careful What You Put in Your Pipe

The risk to the entire Flathead Valley from the oil trains is not worth the benefit we receive

By Orrin B Webber

In response to Dave Skinner’s article Feb. 8 Beacon: “Put this in your Pipe.” Dave, I usually appreciate the research you do in your writings. You may want to follow up on the recent story concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline being built by Energy Transfer Partners. This pipeline will ship Bakken crude to Patoka, Illinois.

You mentioned the 42-inch Northern Border natural gas pipeline currently operating since 1983. I am not a pipeline engineer nor a cleanup environmental engineer but I do feel a spill from a 30-inch Bakken crude pipeline would have a much larger impact than natural gas into the Missouri River. Ask the people who live in Glendive after the 12-inch Bridger Pipeline spilled only 31,000 gallons (about one train car) into the Yellowstone in which only 10 percent was ever recovered.

Bakken crude is one of the most toxic forms of oil and very unlike natural gas. From a personal standpoint I would prefer to see Bakken crude go east and not by rail west along the Flathead River, risking the Flathead Valley aquifer and Flathead Lake downstream.

If you drive a car you need oil. There are over 542,500 miles of oil and gas pipelines in the United States (more than to the moon and back). On a per-gallon shipped, they are way safer than shipping by rail. The pipeline on wheels rolling down Marias pass in all kinds of weather and climate carry 30,000 gallons per car, times 100 cars that’s 3 million gallons a day or more.

Pipelines can be operated safely. This is one area where regulations are very important and where deregulation will cause dire consequences. People need to look at the facts and not the hype, perhaps there is a lower risk crossing or operating methods.

If you drive a car that’s not fueled by electricity, natural gas or bio fuel that you are part of the problem so educate yourself and help solve the problem for the betterment of everyone. The risk to the entire Flathead Valley from the oil trains is not worth the benefit we receive.

Orrin B Webber

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