Letter to the Editor – April 19

As long-time residents and landowners being concerned and affected by the Oneok Partners Pipeline we feel compelled to provide more information to our friends and neighbors of the danger the Bakken Pipeline poses to our environment and community. The proposed pipeline route will cross through one of the unique geological formations in the United States. This Spearfish Formation, labeled the Red Valley is known as the Racetrack and goes 360 degrees around the Black Hills. The widest part of the Racetrack is here at Sundance, Wyoming. The formation consists of carbonate karst, gypsum, and red soil. The formation is well known as a very important aquifer supplying water to wells and springs, for agriculture and community uses. It is also known for its sinkholes such as the Vore Buffalo Jump. Sinkholes up to 1,000 feet long and 60 feet deep are located throughout this area. Many geology studies have issued warnings that the collapse of the gypsum karst needs to be given great consideration in any land planning of the Spearfish Formation.
Due to our concerns we sought advice from Dr. Perry Rahn PE, PhD, SD School of Mines. After touring the area and researching the geological studies of this area Dr. Rahn has expressed his concern that Oneok Partners chose a route without considering the geological formations and soil stability. Dr. Rahn’s concerns became a reality at the Crook County Commissioners’ Meeting on April 4, 2012, when Oneok’s representatives explained their construction plans, their starting date, but stated that they had not done a geological study. Their solution is to fill the sink holes with dirt and go on. Many experts and local folks know and have voiced: “This can’t be done.”
We need to remember what has just happened to the Sundance water tank. Because of ground movement the tank has slid causing a water leak. The same thing may happen to the Bakken Pipeline.
On October 20, 2011, after conducting a field observation, Seth Wittke, Project Geologist from the office of the Director and State Geologist, Wallace L. Ulrich, Wyoming State Geological Survey, reports that landslides, ground movement, and sink holes that have been active for years are occurring in the Sundance, gypsum springs and Spearfish Formation. He suggests a thorough geologic hazard assessment be undertaken along the proposed route of the planned pipeline during the design phase of the project before construction begins. Oneok has not only failed to address the geological safety issues for their pipeline carrying unidentified petroleum products but now inform us that they plan to force a second pipeline carrying crude oil through our area. It is not a matter of IF there is going to be a pipeline break because of land movement but WHEN. Just one leak could contaminate our surface water, ground water and underground water reservoirs.
We are not opposed to energy exploration or transportation but believe that we should do so in a responsible, safe manner. We should not risk our safety, clean water and ecosystems in favor of energy development. This proposed pipeline will not carry any product from Wyoming or to Wyoming. It will only transport unspecified products from North Dakota and Montana to another pipeline in Colorado. Wyoming won’t even collect sales tax on the pipe that is used.
Not only the people of this area but all of Wyoming and South Dakota need to help stop this pipeline until an extensive geological study can be completed to guarantee that our environment, and health and safety of the public are not at risk.
Copies of the reports from Dr. Rahn and the Wyoming State Geological Survey are available for review at The Sundance Times.
Les and Karen Turgeon
Dr. Warren and Greta Crawford
Vernon Seeley
Bill and Marcia Lambert
Judy Bush
Doug Watson
Tony and Betty Lantis
Wes Jones
Frank and Della Hawken
Ruby Schlup
Livingston Ranch, Inc. Perry and Carla Livingston
Vic and Donna Jones
Mervin Peterson
Val Dalicandro
Betty Necklason
Terry Reach
Vernie Mae Nussbaum
Tate Overgaurd
Doug and Shelia Hunter
LeRoy and Lila Butts
Becky Conkkey
Les and Cassie Butts
Phyllis Watson
Lamoine Sell
Randy and Victoria Koch
Nancy and Larry Cassidy
LaVern Sell
Betty J. White
John D. and Verda Swenson
Durwood and Gwen Weaver
Mark Thompson