Richard Kuprewicz “Report” on USACE EA for Dakota Access Deficient, Flawed

Richard Kuprewicz recently released a supposed report – more akin to commentary – on the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Dakota Access’ pipeline. This report, just 10 pages in length, stands in direct contrast to the 160-page (over 1,200 pages if you include all the appendices) assessment from the Corps.

The follow are facts that refute Kuprewicz’s findings:

Kuprewicz Point 1 Counterpoint: EA fails to evaluate impact of DAPL on easement and WOTUS

The EA conducted by the USACE carefully examined all potential impacts to areas under the Corps jurisdiction. In addition, each state carefully reviewed the project’s application and mitigation efforts and approved the project after open public comment periods and hearings.

For areas under the Corps jurisdiction and areas deemed of HCAs by the USACE definition: In regards to the Lake Oahe crossing, the pipeline will be buried to a depth of more than 90 feet, will utilize increased wall thickness of the pipe, the installation of remotely operated valves on both sides of the river crossing, and monitoring of the system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that would further limit the potential for an inadvertent release into the waterbody (pg. 122).

Kuprewicz Point 2 Counterpoint: Ability to timely activate remote valves

Mainline valves are installed along the pipeline route to reduce or avoid spill effects to PHMSA defined HCAs. While there is currently no DOT CFR 195 requirement on valves, DAPL has gone above and beyond to prioritize safety using state-of-the-art technology to construct the project.

All mainline valves on DAPL will have motorized actuators to provide for the capability to remotely close all valves to isolate pipeline segments as needed. All mainline valves qualify as Emergency Flow Restriction Devices and are installed per each 10 mile segment and other sensitive areas.

The Pipeline Operator and Monitor would utilize a Computational Pipeline Monitoring System (CPM) to monitor the pipeline for leaks. The CPM is a state-of-the-art pipeline monitoring tool and features a real-time transient model that is based on pipeline pressure, flow, and temperature data, which is pulled from various field instruments every 6 seconds and updates the model calculations to detect pipeline system variations every 30 seconds. After the system is tuned, this state-of-the-art CPM system is capable of detecting leaks as low as 1 percent or better of the pipeline flow rate within a time span of approximately 1 hour or less and capable of providing rupture detection within 1 to 3 minutes.

Kuprewicz Point 3 Counterpoint: Regarding deficiencies of the worst case discharge

Dakota Access provided information to the USACE and individual state governmental agencies on modeling for a worst-case discharge. The company will conduct emergency response drills/exercises in accordance with PREP, which is recognized, and approved, by the EPA, US Coast Guard, and PHMSA. These emergency response exercises will consist of annual table top exercises and equipment deployment drills. Regulatory and stakeholder participation will be encouraged and solicited for the exercises.

The Kuprewicz commentary states that his reasoning for ascertaining that there are deficiencies in the worst-case modeling is because that information was not provided to him (he made a guess without reviewing actual information). The USACE carefully reviewed the Environmental Assessment, as did representatives of four state governments, who approved the project after thorough review and examination.

Kuprewicz Point 4 Counterpoint: Regarding nondestructive girth weld inspection

On page 8 of the Kuprewicz memo it states he, “does not see such a clear requirement in the EA and API 1104” (a referenced industry standard providing guidance in pipeline welding).

On page, 18 of the EA, it states, “Welding would be performed in accordance with the American Petroleum Institute Standards, PHMSA pipeline safety regulations, and Company welding specifications. All welds would be coated for corrosion protection and visually and radiographically inspected to ensure there are no defects.”