Is Keystone I Construction Damaging Farmland?
These photos were taken by Kent Moeckly and show the construction of the Keystone I pipeline on land he owns about 12 miles SW of Britton, South Dakota (Marshall County). You can see larger versions of the photos and many more at this link.
Kent says the pictures show Michels Construction, a contractor for TransCanada’s Keystone I’s pipeline, compacting wet soil, moving topsoil during wet weather, and dumping it into standing water.
Farmers know that topsoil (a.k.a “black dirt”) is very valuable and needs to be treated right.
“You aren’t doing justice to the ground when you let black dirt dissipate in water,” says Kent. “Anytime you disturb and compact black dirt, you’ve lowered its productivity. We don’t have very rich dirt like the Red River Valley of North Dakota or Iowa has. We have a thin layer of black dirt.”
According to the Construction Mitigation and Reclamation Plan for the Keystone I pipeline [8.63 MB .pdf], there are certain protocols that are supposed to be followed during the pipeline’s construction. This link shows the protocol for construction during adverse weather.
For another story of the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone I pipeline, check out this reporting from the Madville Times.