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TransCanada plans South Dakota camp

COLOME, S.D. -- TransCanada Corp. plans to build a workforce camp just south of Colome if the Keystone XL pipeline gains approval.

Jeff Rauh, project representative for TransCanada, said in an interview with The Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic that the company would construct a workforce camp to accommodate 300 people living in RVs and campers. Colome, located in south-central South Dakota, has a population of 296.

"It will have a water supply, power supply and facilities to accommodate wastewater as well," Rauh said. "We are evaluating options for that wastewater disposal, including discussions with the city of Chamberlain."

TransCanada plans to lease 50 acres for the camp, Rauh said, and would keep the camp on the property for one to two years. The location is about one mile south of Colome.

The wastewater for the camp would likely be placed in holding tanks that can be hauled by truck to a wastewater facility, he said.

Rauh said TransCanada is working with area power suppliers, local governments for zoning requirements and certification for lodging facilities, and requirements for the health and safety of those in the camp.

"We're working with the local community as well," Rauh said.

The economic impact on Colome and surrounding communities will be significant, he added.

"The use of workforce camps is something we do to manage the impact and to make sure in areas without adequate housing facilities that the workforce can be accommodated without overwhelming those existing facilities," Rauh said.

TransCanada also plans to construct workforce camps near Howes in Meade County and near Buffalo, S.D., in Harding County.

The existing Keystone pipeline starts in Hardisty, Alberta, and carries tar sands crude oil through North Dakota, eastern South Dakota and Nebraska. Branches from Steele City, Neb., go to refineries in Patoka, Ill., and Cushing, Okla.

The Keystone XL pipeline would also start in Hardisty, Alberta, cross the northeast corner of Montana, and pass through South Dakota and Nebraska, finally reaching Steele City. An extension of Keystone XL continues south from the existing Keystone line at Cushing to refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, and Houston. That segment is considered a standalone effort known as the Gulf Coast Project. It was approved last year, and construction began in August.

Approval for the rest of the Keystone XL project is still pending, but some lawmakers are working to push it forward. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., pushed for a mandatory approval of the pipeline in his budget proposal.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., introduced a bill Thursday to give Congress power to approve the pipeline's construction, rather than leaving the decision up to President Barack Obama.