Keystone rep explains system for monitoring pipeline leaks

Concerns about potential oil leaks from the Keystone TransCanada pipeline?? which crosses Marion County??were allayed at Monday?s Marion County Commission meeting by a representative of the company?s monitoring division.

Jon Wickersham, incident response specialist at TransCanada, said a team of 24 safety operators at Calgary in Canada are split into teams of four or more and are continuously electronically monitoring the pipeline every five seconds for leaks or safety issues.

Wickersham was accompanied at the meeting by Marion County Emergency Management Director Randy Frank.

The company retains leak response equipment along the pipeline?s route, with the closest rigs??a 34-foot response trailer and 20-foot boat??at Wichita, and identical rigs at St. Joseph, Mo., Wickersham said.

The line through Marion County is capable of moving 590,000 gallons of many varieties of oil at 3 to 5 mph through the county daily, he said. Even though that?s a large volume of oil, Wickersham said most potential leaks are small, perhaps five gallons or less.

Asked by Commissioner Dan Holub about potential leaks into the narrow tree-banked creek channels here, Wickersham said choices will always have to be made as to the best cleanup available.

In some cases, it might be better only to monitor a spill, he said, while microbial organisms eat it away. Wickersham said oil is an organic food-rich substance with much of it consumed rapidly by bacteria in any spill.

Dan Harden, senior project engineer with BG Con?sultants out of Lawrence, appearing with Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford, said Marion County has been approved for a federal grant administered through the Kansas Department of Transpor?tation for a $385,000 project to change a curve in the road at 130th and Nighthawk from a right-hand sharp turn to a gentle-flowing curve to expedite traffic.

The grant would be for $300,000 with the county required to contribute $85,000, he said. The funding would include $30,000 for design, $10,000 for right-of-way, $15,000 for utility relocation and $330,000 for construction engineering.

The project and funding are subject to final acceptance by the commissioners. Bidding potentially would be completed by October 2015, with construction in 2016.

In other road and bridge business, the commissioners approved a transport fuel bid of $24,162.55 from Coopera?tive Grain &Supply of Hills?boro for 5,000 gallons of diesel and 3,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline over a competitive bid of $24,330 from Cardie Oil of Tampa.

County Clerk Tina Spencer said an electrical server involved with security of the courthouse went down, requiring $3,500 in immediate service work.

Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene said her department will receive $5,300 under an agreement with Marion County Special Education District to do early intervention screening of children.

The commissioners approved two purchases of servers and computers by Department on Aging Coordinator Gayla Ratzlaff for $2,070.78.

The commissioners met in executive sessions for 15 minutes by themselves for non-elected personnel, for five minutes with Serene for to discuss pay increase, and with Spencer for five minutes for personnel.

No action was taken in public session.

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