Northwest Iowa — Despite not having a permit to cross all rivers in Iowa, Dakota Access has begun construction on its Bakken crude oil pipeline in all areas along the pipeline’s route through Iowa.
Lisa Dillinger, a media relations specialist with the Dakota Access Pipeline division of Energy Transfer Partners confirms that construction activities began in the southeast and northwest areas of the state in early June. She says construction activities in our area will ramp up in the coming months.
The Army Corps of Engineers has not signed off on the project for all rivers that the pipeline will cross. On Wednesday, July 13th, in communication with KIWA, Dillinger stated that they had not yet received a permit to cross the Big Sioux River between South Dakota and Iowa. But on Thursday, July 14th Dillinger said that Dakota Access does not need a special permit to cross the Big Sioux. She says that since they will be boring UNDER the river instead of digging a trench, they only need a Sovereign Lands Permit, which they received in March. Dillinger says Dakota Access continues to work with the Army Corps to receive permits in all four states as quickly as possible in order to limit construction activities to one growing season and be in service by the end of this year. She says they don’t know exactly how long it will take the Army Corps to issue the permits, but they hope to receive them as soon as possible.
Native American leaders said earlier this year that a portion of the land in Lyon County was a culturally-significant site that shouldn’t be disturbed. Dillinger says that in order to avoid the site in question, they will bore the pipeline to a depth between 80 and 100 feet through a horizontal-direction drill. She says that will allow them to avoid all surface disturbance through the Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area inclusive of the potential site, during construction and throughout the ongoing operation of the pipeline.
Dillinger says, “We have incorporated the protection of sensitive areas and cultural resources from the very start of the project and we will continue to do so.”
By using directional boring, the pipeline won’t disturb the culturally-significant ground above it according to authorities, so the stop-work order that had been issued was removed.
State Archaeologist John Doershuck reportedly signed off on the idea as a “satisfactory avoidance procedure”, but some Native American leaders were not happy with the decision.