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Dalrymple presses fed pipeline officials to review safety requirements

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BISMARCK — Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he urged officials with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on Monday to evaluate whether their pipeline regulations offer enough oversight and protection for North Dakotans, particularly in rural areas.

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During a conference call Monday afternoon with Administrator Cynthia Quarterman and two other PHMSA officials, Dalrymple said he voiced concern that the agency’s pipeline regulations can fall short in protecting rural areas from pipeline spills, according to a news release.

As PHMSA regional administrator Linda Daugherty explained to the state’s Public Service Commission last week, the agency doesn’t require any certain type of monitoring on remotely located pipelines but does require enhanced monitoring in locations considered “high consequence areas,” where a release could affect large populations, drinking water supplies or environmentally sensitive areas.

“Rural areas don’t necessarily get the same level of oversight from PHMSA and that is concerning,” Dalrymple said in the news release.

Last week, PSC members mulled the idea of the state forming its own oil pipeline inspection program, one that could perhaps share jurisdiction with PHMSA.

Dalrymple said in an interview Monday evening that he asked PHMSA officials to come to North Dakota for a more in-depth meeting to identify ways to enhance pipeline monitors and controls in the state.

“We want to go over all of our options, including the possibility of working directly with PHMSA in North Dakota,” he said.

The governor also received an update on the estimated 20,600-barrel oil spill discovered Sept. 29 near Tioga. He said his impression from PHMSA officials was that the findings of their investigation, including what caused the hole in the Tesoro Logistics pipeline, could be released yet this week.

Dalrymple said he also spoke Monday with Tesoro Vice President of Operations Dan Romasko about what measures Tesoro has taken so far to improve the pipeline’s safety. He said Romasko informed him that Tesoro has installed remote-reading monitors from Mandan to the northern end of the pipeline — a process he said was already under way before the spill was discovered — and that the monitors are connected to a control center operated around the clock.

“They must have moved quickly here the last couple of weeks to get that done,” Dalrymple said. “I was glad to hear that.”

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