Civil Engineer Raises Safety Concerns for Workers Building Bakken Pipeline

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AMES, Iowa -- For weeks, Joe Reutter, a registered professional civil engineer, has been monitoring the excavation work being done for the construction of the Bakken pipeline along U.S. 30, between Boone and Ames. Reutter has been taking photos, and he's concerned for the safety of the workers.

Based on his expertise and professional experience as a civil engineer, Reutter is worried that from what he sees, there doesn't appear to be the proper precautions in place to ensure worker safety. "There should either be shoring of the sidewalls, use what they call a shield, which is a vertical type thing with cross members. It`s open on the bottom so you can drop it right on the pipe and somebody can get down in there and work safely, or you could do a geo-technical investigation, work out a slope stability analysis and you may find that the 1-1 slope is okay there, but it won’t be applicable to every spot on this project," said Reutter.

Reutter is afraid a worker is going to get seriously injured or killed. "If you don`t shore up the excavation or at least know if the soil is strong enough at this steep angle, somebody gets down in there, if you get a cave in, first thing the poor person can`t do is breathe. You`re going to cut off his blood circulation, so immediately you gotta get him out of there and how long can you hold you`re breath," said Reutter.

OSHA said it was unaware of these concerns and had not received an official complaint.