119 Ripley County tracts
Pipeline works through county

This is how the pipeline looked this summer, located on property off SR 229, near Ballstown. The inset picture is two months later, when most of the pipeline was covered.

Mary Mattingly

A steel pipeline that crosses many states and ultimately delivers ethane natural gas liquid to Texas for plastic production has left its mark in Ripley County.

Many may have noticed the construction for the pipeline, particularly along SR 229, near the Napoleon area, SR 129 and SR 46, near Batesville. Crews were brought in this summer to install the pipes. Construction is finished for the most part, with cleanup and restoration still left to complete in several local tracts.

According to Rick Rainey, spokesperson for Enterprise Products, owner of the pipelines, the pipeline crossed 119 tracts in Ripley County, and three municipal parcels in Batesviille. “We are on schedule to be in service the first quarter of 2014.”

The northern portion of the Appalachia-to Texas (ATEX ) Express Pipeline involves the construction of 369 miles of 20-inch diameter pipeline from Washington County, Pennsylvania to Seymour, Indiana where it will connect with an existing Enterprise pipeline. That pipeline, which currently transports refined products from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest, will be placed into ethane service and the flow direction will be reversed.

“…I’m not
with the results.”
In all, it’s 1,239 miles of pipeline. John Einhaus, who has a small piece of property impacted from the project, commented, “When you think of the logistics to put it all together, it’s pretty amazing.” Precision Pipeline out of Wisconsin was the contractor for the new pipeline.

Seventy percent of the pipes were already in place, and they also tried to run lines parallel to existing pipelines, Rainey said. “We made good progress and restored some of the area impacted, but we continue with construction in some areas with clearance and right of ways. “

The project was actually introduced over two years ago, but it took easement permits, field surveys and permit acquisition before the first shovel hit the ground. Even historical archeological surveys had to be completed in some communities, Rainey said. Federal agencies, including the EPA and Dept. of Transportation, also had to review the project plans.

Several property owners in the county had land that was dug for the ATEX Express pipe installation. The pipeline company only needed about 100 feet of Einhaus property on 1050N, in northern Napoleon. Pipes were dug five weeks ago, and just last week topsoil was laid, Einhaus said. “From our standpoint, it barely came through our property.” It took longer to complete than he had anticipated, noting it was an “eyesore” over the summer, but it’s about finished now.

Roger Young, who farms land in Napoleon, said the pipeline impacted about 10 acres of the 190 he works on. Landowners were compensated for their crop loss or disruption. Some counties or cities along the route were paid for damage to roads, etc. Rainey did not disclose an overall price of the entire project. Young was paid for crop damage, and the owner was compensated for crop loss.

Many farmers or landowners were initially anxious when they heard about the pipeline coming through. Young had heard horror stories out of Shelby County when a pipeline came through there, but since this one is about finished, he is satisfied with restoration. “I was out there the last two nights and for as big or as much as they dug, I’m not disappointed with the results.” Construction on his land began in July.

Rainey said they did not have to resort to using eminent domain as a legal recourse for property, and said, ”We had a high rate of negotiated agreements.”

About two to three acres of Steve Dieckmann’s farmland in northern Napoleon was also dug for this pipeline. They started in July and finished with construction recently, but still have topsoil and final restoration work left to do. He figures it will be a few months until they are completely finished, due to the weather. He’s satisfied though, “It’s just something you have to deal with, with eminent domain and all. You can’t really stop it. But it’s ok. They made a fair offer to pay for the land use,” Dieckmann said. The pipes run parallel to existing gas pipes, pipes that had been there for 40 to 50 years.

Process, monitoring
As for the process, ethane is separated from natural gas liquids and transported to a petrochemical plant in Texas. It’s converted to ethylene and eventually used in products such as furniture, cleaners, paints and plastics. Ethane is a natural gas liquid, like butane.
Some may be concerned about potential leaks and hazards. Rainey said the pipeline is monitored 24/7 electronically. Data is gathered for pressure, volume and flow rates. Whenever operation conditions change, an alarm warns the operator on duty and it is investigated. Manual and automated valves are placed along the system to be shutdown immediately if needed. Visual inspections are done by air and ground on a regular basis.

Brochures are distributed to residents living near the ATEX pipelines. Rainey said one area of misunderstanding is ownership. “We take ownership but we work it out with the landowner for access. They can farm, graze on it, whatever.” Crops can be planted over the right of way. Depth adjustments are made if they know heavy farm equipment will go over the pipes.

Enterprise is a member of numerous Call Before You Dig programs across the U.S. which are designed to help the public and contractors identify the location of pipelines prior to excavating.

While the land disturbance and mess is obvious, there is a less obvious benefit to the pipeline. Because the pipeline construction brings in crews, it can help boost the economy of a community along the route. The workers need a place to stay, to eat, buy gas, etc. According to the ATEX website, about 4,000 full-time jobs were created in the states where it was constructed. Several rented mobile homes in Ripley County during the summer.

‘1954 Miracle of Milan’ on HBO Thursday evening

The 1954 Miracle of Milan will be featured on HBO Thanksgiving evening as part of the documentary “Sport in America: Our Defining Stories.” This all new documentary by HBO, Sports Illustrated, and End Game Entertainment examines how the universal thread of sport unites us as a people and has shaped America’s character. This 95-minute special debuts on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 28 (6 pm ET )when families gather to enjoy the holiday and share sports.

The filmmakers sifted through thousands of personal stories from fans who have been part of sports’ most transcendent events to create a tapestry of stories reflecting our culture. It examines what these events meant to us, why they inspired us and what they tell us about who we are.

Other featured stories include Hank Aaron breaking the major league baseball home run record, Jessie Owens historic achievements at the 1936 Olympics and when a hobbled Kurt Gibson hit a rocket into the right field stands to win game one of the 1988 World Series.

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