"Inadvertent release" into wetlands near gas pipeline project site

A photo of the area Aug. 18. The city of Eagan sent a message residents should expect noise in the area that day because a contractor would be removing 3,000 feet of previously installed pipe because of "complications."
Northern Natural Gas included this photo of Interlachen Drive spill cleanup efforts in a supplemental report to federal authorities.
   EAGAN, MN -- About 100 gallons of a lubricant used in pipeline drilling spilled into wetlands in the Interlachen Drive area, according to a report to federal authorities filed by the company drilling the pipeline.
   The company described the drilling mud as a "naturally occuring clay."
   "This drilling mud, which is used to facilitate the horizontal directional drill, is composed of bentonite, under the brand name of Bara-Kade, a naturally occurring clay. Bentonite, which is a non-toxic substance, is a drilling mud that has been approved by the Minnesota Department of Health," the company said in a statement.

   A Safety Data Sheet for Bara-Kade Bentonite obtained from a state of Pennsylvania website, lists potential health effects: "Breathing crystalline silica can cause lung disease, including silicosis and lung cancer. Crystalline silica has also been associated with scleroderma and kidney disease."
   The city of Eagan posted a message on its website Sunday that a contractor for pipeline operator Northern Natural Gas would be removing 3,000 feet of previously installed pipe from the ground on Saturday because of “unplanned complications.” The message was apparently posted to warn nearby residents of noise. “[T]hey’ve told us this can be a very noisy operation,” the message on the city’s website read. There was no mention of the spill.
   Northern Natural Gas has been drilling a 7.8-mile, 20-inch gas pipeline from Rosemount to Burnsville, passing through Eagan in the Cliff Road area. The pipeline project, and the area where the spill occurred, cuts through a new residential area with some of the city’s most expensive homes. New homes in the area have been advertised for sale at more than $600,000.
   A large temporary wall, as tall as nearby two-story houses, has been built to screen heavy equipment from some views, but the partition is open and does not block access to open ditches and the construction equipment stored there. There is a city park located near the construction and spill area. Residents frequently walk through the area.
   The city’s website posting made no mention of the 100-gallon spill, the second of three reported spills along the pipeline project since April. The pipeline project has not appeared on the recent agendas of the Eagan City Council, nor its Energy and Environment Advisory Commission. In a supplemental report filed about two weeks after the spill, Northern Natural Gas indicated city employees had been to the site and were aware of the spill.
   Northern Natural Gas files weekly reports about the pipeline project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. There was no mention of the spill in the latest weekly report, August 15, but the company filed, electronically, a supplemental report to federal authorities the following day, on August 16.
   “On August 3, 2018, an inadvertent mud release occurred on the Interlachen Drive – Cliff Road HDD,” the company reported to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “During an inspection on Aug. 6, 2018, the City of Eagan determined that approximately 100 gallons of drilling mud had been released and was trapped in the cattails of the wetland feature.”
      A review of the gas company’s reports to federal authorities also revealed a diesel spill occurred on April 27. That spill occurred when a truck delivering pipe to the project tried to pull into the staging area after hours, missed the edge of the driveway, and punctured a fuel tank, according to a report filed by the pipeline operator. About two gallons of fuel spilled into a driveway and the street, according to the report. The spill was not discovered until the following morning and was not reported to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
   A larger fuel spill occurred from another pipeline in the Cliff Road area on Jan. 8. In that event, a contractor for Lifetime Fitness struck a gasoline pipeline, resulting in a spill of about 21,000 gallons. 
This photo from NASA shows the view from space Aug. 22 as Hurricane Lane heads towards Hawaii.

Police charge houseguest with forgery

Lost owner

EAGAN, MN – A Saint Paul man is facing a felony charge for alleging forging checks taken from an Eagan home where he had stayed.
   Nicholas Presley, 30, of 760 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, was charged with check forgery over $2,500, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. Presley is accused of forging nearly $10,000 worth of checks between Jan. 8 and June 29. He has been summonsed to appear in court Sept. 24.
   The alleged forgery was reported to Eagan Police July 12, according to court records. Unauthorized checks – fourteen checks totaling about $9,500 -- were allegedly written on the victim’s account and presented in Eagan and Apple Valley, according to the complaint. The account holder suspects the checks were taken when Presley stayed temporarily at his house, according to investigators.
Need More Time?
It's about time with Christy Wright
The Dakota County Sheriff's Office was looking for the owner of this dog found in the area of Cedar Avenue. Those with any information can call the department at 651-437-4211.

Eagan man charged with arson to rental home

Leigh Monson reviews BlacKkKlansman
EAGAN, MN – A local man is facing a felony arson charge for allegedly setting fire to his rental home last May.
   Gregory Gorath, 63, of 2985 Lexington Ave., Eagan, has been summonsed to appear in Dakota County court Sept. 24 to answer to a charge of unintentional third-degree arson, according to a criminal complaint. The charge stems from a May 5 fire at the home he rented.
   Eagan police and firefighters responded to the burning house and pulled Gorath from inside the home. When they arrived, heavy black smoke was coming from the house and flames were visible in the living room. Gorath was covered in black soot.
   Police allege Gorath was trying to commit suicide when he lit the curtains on fire. He then fled to a back room because of the heavy smoke and flames and kicked out the back window for air, according to court records. Gorath was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Mayor douses residents' comments about new recreational fire rules

EAGAN, MN – Mayor Mike Maguire dismissed residents from a city council workshop on the city’s recreational fire ordinance this week saying it would be “unproductive” to take public comments about the matter.
   In refusing to allow residents to speak at the Aug. 15 special city council meeting, the mayor noted there would likely be a public hearing on the issue at another meeting. The city is considering changes to its recreational fire ordinance because of what was described during the meeting as a “growing number of complaints” called in to the police and fire departments about recreational fires in residential areas. The city reported 82 such complaints in 2016, 73 in 2017, and 41 in 2018. The mayor called such complaints from residents “unnecessarily burdensome.”
   Proposed changes to the city’s recreational fire ordinance would include prohibiting the burning of hazardous materials and items other than clean, dry firewood. A representative from the fire department also suggested city officials would use their authority to prohibit activities on private property, saying the fire and police departments “will always reserve the right to tell someone they have to put out a fire whether it’s legal or not.”
    The mayor and city council said they would not likely set a time restriction on fires, discussing proposed language that would prohibit recreational fires between midnight and 8 a.m. There appears to be no proposal to require a sober adult be present, as the mayor made several references to allowing recreational fires during the consumption of alcohol.  The changes, as discussed, would essentially prohibit a homeowner who spent the day clearing brush from the yard from burning it, but his next-door neighbor could spend the day drinking at his fire pit until well past midnight.