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by Safety Skipped in Ruby's Rush
Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010 at 7:55 AM
El Paso corporation's rush to complete the Ruby Pipeline in northern Nevada resulted in a worker's fatality as safety procedures were skipped and work continued despite the frigid temps and icy surfaces. The time required to complete this project is being shortened by the corporate profit motive, and the human nature to make serious mistakes is increased as workers grow weary from long hours and colder temperatures.
, 22.12.2010 15:52
The following are articles from Elko Free Press, as this independent media writer is physically unable to be there as a witness. We can all read between the lines and understand the sheer magnitude of this pipeline project given the weather and geology combined with pipeline workers being more likely to make serious errors that could be fatal as they become increasingly tired and cold.
"Pipeline controversy turns to safety in wake of fatality"
Posted: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:11 pm | (3) Comments
"El Paso Corp. is looking at safety practices on the Ruby Pipeline and elsewhere at its operations across the West following a string of accidents here in Elko County.
On Tuesday, an Ohio man approaching retirement age lost his life when one of the massive pipe sections slipped and he was crushed in a trench. A week earlier, a worker attempting to stop a piece of machinery from rolling down an embankment suffered a broken leg. In October, nine people were injured — two critically — when a pipe-bearing truck barreled into a construction site north of Deeth.
We haven’t heard of accidents along the pipeline in other states, with the exception of a construction worker who was seriously injured in September after rolling his truck in Weber County, Utah.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the local incidents, but no word yet on exactly what went wrong or how they could have been prevented. Fall protection and lack of fall prevention training are two of the top 10 issues the agency cited companies on nationwide over the past year.
Speed is another factor that plays into accidents of all types. Even the best safety measures can be compromised when workers are racing against the clock.
Conditions at the pipeline site must be far from ideal this time of year. The roads leading to it are in such bad shape it takes a large truck or specialized vehicle to reach the site. The idea of installing a major pipeline through Elko County once winter weather conditions have arrived is daunting. Surely the mud, snow and ice exacerbate safety.
Hazards associated with the project aren’t limited to workers. We know of at least one truck that turned off Interstate 80 onto Mountain City Highway and fishtailed into the oncoming lane as it rounded the corner. Luckily, the lane was open at the time.
We understand that construction of any type is dangerous work. Fatalities happen all too often, just as they do in the equally dangerous mining industry.
That doesn’t mean we will just accept them as inevitable. The accidents associated with this project remind us of the situation a few years ago in Las Vegas, when construction workers were dying in large numbers as they built high-rise casino resorts. At the height of the construction boom nine workers were killed in a 12-month period.
The Las Vegas Sun did an investigative series on the deaths, getting the attention of Congress and the Legislature, and leading to policy changes and a dramatic drop in fatalities. Of course, the recession has had a big impact on activity since then.
Pipeline projects don’t come along as often as casino developments once did in Las Vegas, but they should be subject to the same scrutiny when it comes to safety procedures. We look forward to reporting next week on measures the companies are taking to improve safety and complete the project without further accidents, injuries or deaths."
Members of the Elko Daily Free Press editorial board are John Pfeifer, Jeffry Mullins and Marianne Kobak.
Ruby Pipeline victim from Ohio
by Jared DuBach
Posted: Thursday, December 9, 2010 8:14 am | (0) Comments
"ELKO — The worker who was killed Tuesday afternoon several miles north of Elko while working on a section of the Ruby Pipeline has been identified by the Elko County Sheriff’s Office as Charles C. Kuhn, 61, of Dresden, Ohio.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Nick Czegledi said Kuhn was employed by contractor Precision Pipeline LLC., which is based in Eau Claire, Wis. An employee of Precision Pipeline on Wednesday was forwarding all media requests for information to El Paso Corp., which is funding the project.
Robert Newberry of El Paso did not confirm by press time whether any safety changes were being implemented as a result of this accident, or an October incident in which nine other workers were injured in a vehicle accident along the pipeline north of Deeth.
Newberry told the Free Press on Wednesday that it is standard practice to have safety meetings every day, but said he would have to confer with on-site coordinators about any specific changes.
Czegledi told the Free Press on Tuesday that Kuhn was working on a section of pipe that was next to the trench when it started to roll. Kuhn was knocked into the trench, and the pipe fell in on top of him. He died by the time people could reach him.
According to Czegledi, the sections of pipe are placed on “skids,” or a series of wood blocks that act as chocks to keep the sections in place.
Czegledi, who was one of the deputies who investigated the incident, said it was apparent to him the situation was an accident, however it will be up to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators on the scene to determine the cause."
Idaho driver injured by oversized cargo
by Jared DuBach
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:42 am | (1) Comments
"WELLS — An Idaho man was injured Saturday on U.S. Highway 93 after his vehicle was struck by a pipeline company truck that was turning onto the Winecup Ranch road.
According to the Nevada Highway Patrol, Roger G. Webb, 52, of Oak Grove, Mo., was northbound in a commercial vehicle registered to Pe Ben USA at 7:36 a.m., approaching the turnoff that heads west through Thousand Springs Valley and the Winecup Ranch. Michael Shane Murphy, 47, of Filer, Idaho, was driving south in his 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 with his passenger, Annie Murphy, 42, approaching the same turn-off.
The accident report indicates Webb turned to the right onto the Winecup Ranch road, and overhanging cargo struck the driver’s side windshield and door of Murphy’s truck.
Michael Murphy was transported by Wells Ambulance to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital for an injury to his eye.
Annie Murphy and Webb did not claim injuries. The report did not indicate Webb was cited.
According to Pe Ben’s website, the company is the “industry leader in pipeline logistics.” The company is a subcontractor on the Ruby Pipeline project.
Calls to Pe Ben’s corporate office in Texas were not returned Tuesday."
The Summit Lake Paiute were opposed to the Ruby Pipeline due to the chosen route endangering their ancestral archeaological sites, and this led to their legal petition for review with the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals that challenged the 4/10 FERC order and their denial of the Tribe's Request for Rehearing as violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal laws. To quell growing controversy, El Paso has decided to slightly alter their route, and BLM recently approved the change that now goes north of the reservation.
BLM approves small route change for Ruby
by ADELLA HARDING
Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:45 am | (0) Comments
"ELKO — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved a short route change for El Paso Corp.’s Ruby Pipeline northwest of Winnemucca in answer to Summit Lake tribal concerns.
“In this case, the concern was that the original route would go through traditional cultural property so we did a reroute a couple of miles long or so,” Mark Mackiewicz, national project manager for the BLM, said Monday.
The BLM signed a record of decision late last week to amend the original right-of-way grant for the 678-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline that extends from Wyoming to Oregon, going through northern Utah and northern Nevada.
El Paso spokesman Richard Wheatley said Monday the rerouting won’t affect the project schedule and is only a little more than one-third of a mile of additional pipeline.
“The tribe wanted us to go farther north, toward the southern boundary of the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. The northern boundary of the reservation is roughly a mile south of the proposed right-of-way route variation,” he said.
The BLM also approved an amended plan of development for the Ruby Pipeline Project.
Mackiewicz said the amendment covers winter construction, including road use, snow removal and snow melt, which he said can be a major problem.
“Some areas have had to stop construction and let things dry out,” he said.
The Ruby Pipeline Project includes 368 miles of public land along the route, and the BLM had to approve the rights-of-way for all the public land to tie in with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s project approval.
“It’s amazing to see how big this project is, with thousands of people working on the pipeline,” said Mackiewicz, who said he toured the route in late October or early November.
The BLM approved the original right-of-way grant and plan of development on July 12 of this year, following FERC’s April 5 approval. El Paso had hoped for earlier approval, however, so the project wouldn’t involve as much winter work.
El Paso stated in its third-quarter earnings report the delays were expected to push back Ruby’s in-service date from March 2011 to June 2011 and increase costs by 10 to 15 percent over the original billion budget.
The BLM reported the amended record of decision and amended plan of development is available in the Internet at http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/info/nepa/ruby_pipeline_project.html. Copies are available at the Elko BLM office, as well as other BLM offices along the route."
From Summit Lake Paiute;
ENVIRONMENTAL RUBY PIPELINE UPDATE
NEW On December 8, 2010, Ruby Pipeline requests FERC authorize work near Summit Lake Reservation.
To see Ruby Pipeline's request to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), click here;
"On November 12, 2010, the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe's lawyer filed a Petition For Review with the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the April 2010 Certificate Order FERC issued Ruby Pipeline and the FERC denial of the Tribe's Request for Rehearing as violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal laws.
On September 10, 2010, the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe filed a Petition For Review with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the Ruby Pipeline Project decisions of Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal laws, including the federal government's trust responsibility to protect tribal resources."
Several environmental groups filed a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals against the FERC approval of Ruby Pipeline;
"Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 717r(b), Petitioners Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and
Great Basin Resource Watch (“Petitioners”) hereby petition this Court to review the actions of
Respondent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Respondent”) in connection
with Respondent’s roles in approving the Ruby Pipeline project (“Pipeline”), a nearly 678-milelong,
42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline proposed to run from Opal, Wyoming, to Malin,
Oregon. Because this Petition seeks review of FERC’s April 5, 2010, order issuing the
certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Pipeline as well as FERC’s October 6,
2010, Order Denying Rehearing, which denied Petitioners’ request for rehearing (collectively
“Orders”), this Court has original jurisdiction over the review of the action of Respondent.
Specifically, Petitioners seek review of Respondent’s Orders and the actions Respondent
took in issuing them insofar as they violate the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §
4321 et seq., the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq., the Clean Water Act, 33
U.S.C. § 1251 et seq., and the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. § 717 et seq. The Orders are attached
hereto as Exhibits 1 and 2.
Petitioners are all organizations that and whose members are adversely affected by Respondents’ actions in issuing the Orders authorizing the construction and operation of the Pipeline.
Defenders of Wildlife (“Defenders”) is a national nonprofit organization with over one
million members and supporters nationwide. Defenders is one of the country’s leading science based wildlife conservation organizations, and its mission includes the protection and restoration
of America’s native wildlife and the safeguarding of natural habitats and public lands.
Defenders has worked extensively to protect wildlife, ecosystems, and aquatic resources
throughout the country, including the protection of imperiled wildlife such as greater sage-grouse
and pygmy rabbits, unique habitats and ecosystems such as sagebrush steppe, and the
environment and species of the western United States. As of July 31, 2010, Defenders has
approximately 3,001 members in Nevada—as well as 748 members in Wyoming, 2,055
members in Utah, and 7,154 members in Oregon, the other three states along the Pipeline’s
route—including members who live, work, recreate in the vicinity of, and/or otherwise visit,
enjoy, and take interest in the lands, waters, plants, habitat, wildlife, and other natural values
proposed to be affected by FERC’s authorization of the Pipeline.
The Sierra Club is a national nonprofit organization of more than 600,000 members and
supporters dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth; to
practicing and promoting the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to
educating and enlisting humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human
environment; and to using all lawful means to carry out these objectives. The Sierra Club’s
concerns encompass habitat and species protection throughout the country. The Sierra Club’s
particular interest in this case and the issues which the case concerns stem from the Ruby
Pipeline's impact on habitat for greater sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, and several species of fish.
The Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club has approximately 4,500 members in the state of
Nevada, including members who live, work, recreate in the vicinity of, and/or otherwise visit,
enjoy, and take interest in the lands, waters, plants, habitat, wildlife, and other natural values
proposed to be affected by FERC’s authorization of the Pipeline.
Great Basin Resource Watch (“GBRW”) is a regional nonprofit organization based in
Reno, Nevada, dedicated to protecting the health and well being of the land, air, water, wildlife,
and human communities of the Great Basin from the adverse effects of resource extraction and
use. GBRW informs communities about energy development impacts through reports and
educational materials; reviews mine and energy development proposals, permits, and expansions
in Nevada and California; and recommends policy solutions to reduce toxic emissions, protect
our water resources, and preserve human and wildlife habitat. GBRW has approximately 450
members in Nevada, including members who live, work, recreate in the vicinity of, and/or
otherwise visit, enjoy, and take interest in the lands, waters, plants, habitat, wildlife, and other
natural values proposed to be affected by FERC’s authorization of the Pipeline.
Petitioners hereby request that this Court review the actions of Respondent, vacate
FERC’s Orders, and remand this matter for further action."
entire petition found here;
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