The Arbuckle-Simpson formation consists of fractured limestone with numerous solution channels, fractures, sinkholes, and hundreds of active or abandoned wells. A pipeline leak in the Byrd’s Mill Spring recharge basin could contaminate Ada’s water supply for weeks, months, or years before it is detected, and could render the spring and/or wells permanently unsafe for a drinking water supply. ONEOK notes that the material being pumped through the Sterling 111 pipeline is only 0.075 percent benzene, which they consider to be the most hazardous component. However, if pipeline pumps continued to operate for just five minutes after detecting a pressure drop, over 800,000 gallons of natural gas liquids would be released, which would contain over 600 gallons of benzene. This amount of benzene could contaminate over 600,000,000 gallons of water above drinking water standards. This doesn’t consider the material in the pipelines that continues to flow by gravity after pumps are shut off or the flow of Sterling 1 and 11.
These concerns have been made known to ONEOK by the City of Ada for at least a year, and one meeting between city and ONEOK representatives was held on Feb. 7, 2013. However, ONEOK admittedly has not considered any other route, has offered a very inadequate environmental assessment, has offered no special detection and protection measures in the area of Ada’s water supply, and has not offered a plan to supply drinking water to the 30,000 citizens of Ada and the surrounding communities should Byrd’s Mill Spring and/or Ada’s water supply wells become contaminated. Nor have they provided similar information and plans concerning Durant’s water supply if Blue River becomes contaminated.
We all know that we have to have energy and we have to have pipelines to carry that source of energy; however, we cannot afford to sacrifice one of the most high-quality water supplies in the country for the most convenient and cheapest route. All pipelines eventually leak sometime, somewhere. Steel rusts, not all of the millions of welds are perfect, and earthquakes happen. Otherwise, ONEOK would not be flying airplanes over the pipeline route every couple of weeks to look for “brown spots” that indicate leakage. By the time a “brown spot” appears on the surface in the area of Byrd’s Mill Spring, it will be too late for citizens of the Ada area.