Tallgrass Pony Express Pipeline is in the process of constructing a crude oil pipeline from Lincoln County in Kansas to Ponca City, Okla. The path of that line takes them through Butler County.
Representatives of Tallgrass were on hand at the Butler County Commission meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the project.
The proposed path of the pipeline would come into Butler County at roughly Northwest 30th Street at the Butler/Sedgwick County Line. Then it will angle down to Towanda in the vicinity of the Keystone Pipeline and parallel that line on down to Oklahoma.
They will be transporting light, sweet crude oil with a capacity between 230,000 and 320,000 barrels per day. Eighty percent of the route is co-located with existing energy infrastructure.
As part of the project, Tallgrass was seeking a conditional use permit to construct a pumping station for the pipeline. It would be located on the south side of the Turnpike on the east side of Buffalo Road.
Since the project is being built by two different construction companies, one on the north side of the Turnpike and one on to the south, they also requested special event permits on the north side for a breakdown yard and on the south side as a place to bring in the equipment needed to do the work in a staging area. Those sites would be returned to their existing use after the work was completed. The Planning Commission had voted 5-1 to recommend approval of the pump station subject to all agreements with the county.
One concern was about the noise of the pump station.
Dick Sears, with Tallgrass, explained there would be three pumps, electric driven, located inside of an insulated building.
Another concern was the traffic going to and from the staging areas.
"There will be traffic but on designated haul roads that we have discussed with the county engineer," Sears said.
One resident, Pam Noland who lives on Southwest 40th, voiced concerns to the commission. She said they had also talked to the Planning Commission about the noise.
She said they get so much vibration from the Turnpike already and they had assured her they don't want vibration in the pumps, but she thought the vibration from those pumps would have to go somewhere and be absorbed into the ground.
"Somebody keeps saying the roads are in the condition Keystone left them," Noland continued. "I would love to show you the four-foot hole in my driveway that is still there from where Keystone was using it as a turnaround."
She also was concerned about electrical interference and what it would do to their wells and property values.
Page 2 of 3 - "My husband and I have been treated so porely by this company," she said.
She also said they didn't know anything about the pump station until the Planning Commission meeting.
Janet Roland, with Tallgrass Energy, addressed some of those concerns and further explained the project.
With this new section, the pipeline will be a total of 693 miles from Wyoming to Oklahoma. It will be a 24-inch diameter pipe.
They also will remit real and personal property tax to the county and will not have a state tax exemption, something that caused concerns with the Keystone project.
If approved, construction of the pipeline was to begin mid-August, with the pump station construction beginning in November. It is to be in service by August.
During construction of the pump station, they expect between 40 and 80 people there from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
They also will do some baseline water quality tests on wells within 150 feet of either side of the pipeline if the landowners want it done.
Once the pump station is up and running, normal hours of operation will be Monday through Friday during normal daylight hours with three to four employees on site as well as visits periodically by special contractors to check the site. It also will be remotely monitored 24 hours a day as well as have a remotely operated independent emergency shutdown system and an emergency operator push button on site.
It will have a new access road built for it and a security fence around the entire site with a security gate.
Looking at the noise level, Roland said it should be 55 decibels or less at the fence line, while normal conversation is 60 decibels.
The pump building will be 60x172 feet, the office building will be 40x110 feet and the motor control center will be 40x100 feet, all on the same site.
"This appears to be a pretty big scale installation," said Commissioner Ed Myers. "I am just comparing it to the Keystone pump station. I think it is basically unmanned. This looks bigger and higher capacity perhaps, yet the pipeline is smaller."
Eric Smith, project manager with Tallgrass, said with Keystone, they probably have other regional offices from which they can service that pump, but for Tallgrass this is the first pipeline going into this area and they have to have people here to service it.
Commissioner Peggy Palmer asked what assurances they would have if there was a problem so they could protect the citizens.
Sears said anyone can contact them any time. They have an 800 number, e-mail and Web site.
As for the contractors doing the work, Smith will be managing them.
Page 3 of 3 - Smith said the contractors on the Keystone project who were said not to have treated property owners appropriately would not even be bidding this project.
Palmer also asked how they would address noise problems in the future if there were any.
Sears said this also came up at the Planning Commission meeting.
"The noise coming from the Turnpike is going to be far more than is coming from the pump station," he said. "Our interest is in not having any vibration from these pumps."
They will do that through the engineering and installation process.
Myers asked if there would be the possibility of any sort of hum from the pump station people would be able to hear.
"You're going to hear more from the Turnpike than this pump station," said Commissioner Jeff Masterson. "You're not even going to hear the pump for the noise of the Turnpike."
Roland said they could make the noise part of the conditional use permit and if they did not meet the requirements the county could shut them down.
With their questions answered, the commission approved a conditional use permit for the pump station. It was approved 5-0.
In addition to this permit, Tallgrass also was asking for a special event permit for the staging areas at the end and beginning of the two projects.
Commissioner Mike Wheeler asked why they chose that area and not something on a paved road.
"All of those trucks are going to be brutal on those roads," he said.
Smith said because it was the break between the two spreads on the pipeline route.
The area on the north side will be needed for 45 to 60 days, with breaks in between as equipment comes in. The south side will be similar as the equipment is brought in and crews take off.
The commission approved the permit 5-0. They also will restore county roads and bridges to an acceptable condition.