Spill in North Dakota and Explosion in Orion Township Illustrates the Differences Between the Dangers of Petroleum and Natural Pipelines
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 8:08AM
Clark Hill

210,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota threatens groundwater in the area while a pipeline explosion in OrionTownship left a huge crater.

In order to evaluate the impact of a new pipeline, it is necessary to know what type of material will be transported through it.

The Keystone Pipeline project has been rife with controversy for many years. The potential for environmental catastrophe was raised as a basis to oppose it. The opponents’ worst fears and predictions recently came true. On November 16, 2017, 210,000 gallons of petroleum products leaked.

Meanwhile, closer to home, a natural gas pipeline in Orion Township exploded, leaving a huge crater.

These two recent disasters reflect the different dangers accompanying different types of pipelines. Simply put, a natural gas leak will typically dissipate into the air and cause an explosion. The danger is immediate. While I have generally stopped tracking these incidents, this blog post has a number of examples of explosions, which can be fatal.

On the other hand, petroleum is heavy and will not dissipate or explode. However, it is a danger to have a longer term impact, including contamination of both natural features and wells.

What does this mean? First, when confronted by a proposed pipeline taking, it is important to challenge necessity if the agency does not specifically identify the type of substance being transported. There is greater flexibility in pursuing such challenges when a private agency is involved. For example, I successfully challenged Wolverine Pipe Line Company’s taking that would have allowed it to transport any type of material. That easement was limited to only the petroleum products that were approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Second, once the type of material is identified, it is important to tailor your just compensation claims to reflect the impacts of that specific type of pipeline. For example, a natural gas pipeline in a heavily populated area has a greater risk of killing people while a petroleum pipeline in an area developed with wells has a greater chance of poisoning drinking water.

Please contact me if you have any questions about any eminent domain issues.

Article originally appeared on Clark Hill Property Owner Condemnation Services (http://michigancondemnationblog.com/).
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