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Citing concerns over possible leaks and land valuation implications, the Village of Orchard is publicly stating its opposition of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
After hearing testimony from residents last month during a public hearing, the board has sent a letter to Tim Schram of the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The letter was dated July 27.
“The Board is strongly opposed to the siting of the Keystone XL pipeline near the Village of Orchard for the foregoing reasons and urge you to deny the application altogether or, in the alternative, require a route bypassing Orchard and any other municipality along the route,” the letter stated.
The hearing and the board’s letter was in response to the Nebraska Public Service Commission request to gauge the local impact on the proposed route of the KXL pipeline. The current route is scheduled to come just a few miles east of Orchard running through Royal’s Central Valley Ag hub.
The letter stated three concerns with the pipeline:
“First of all there was some testimony that in the event of leak within a specified area around the Village of Orchard, the village would be required to shut down its water wells in response to such spill. A scenario like this is simply unacceptable to a municipality like the Village of Orchard and in the event this is indeed a requirement any such loss of water well would be devastating to our community no matter how short.
“Secondly, our emergency responders in the Village of Orchard and the surrounding area are all volunteers, none of which have training to respond to a potential spill of contents flowing through the pipeline which can include highly volatile petroleum products. Although TransCanada has assured our community they will provide training and/or emergency personnel to respond to such an incident, our local responders will be the first on the scene to a pipeline emergency and again, they are unable to cope with situation like this based upon the limited personnel and equipment currently available.
“Lastly, there were a number of concerns voiced by the residents as to overall detrimental affects the proposed pipeline would have on the property values of all types of property located in the surrounding area. Since our community relies greatly on the agricultural economy, any spill, no matter how small would directly impact the viability of our town, as well as destroy the value of our ag land, even if the pipeline wasn’t located upon the land itself.”
The Commission does not approve the pipeline but does determine if the route chosen is appropriate. The Siting Act prohibits the Commission from evaluating safety considerations but does require them to consider if the pipeline has complied with all laws, the potential impact on natural resources, economic and social impacts, feasibility for the route and the views of the public.