April 15th, 2009
“The light is on, but nobody’s home.” “His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor.” “His mind is sharper than the leading edge of a bowling ball.” “Two bricks shy of a load.” I could go on and on about this, but until I went to the Rotary meeting in vermillion last week to listen to Preston Phillips, it never dawned on me that those phrases would ever apply to me. I mean I’m not the brightest person in the world, but when it comes to Hyperion I thought I was really on top of it. NOT! (Now you have to read the rest of the article.)
I went to the Rotary meeting in Vermillion on the 7th. Preston Phillips was speaking and I wanted to hear what he had to say, plus maybe butt in and ask a question or two. However, I was told by the President of the Rotary that only members can ask questions and I was merely a guest. I came away from the meeting with more questions. After Preston was finished he took questions from the floor. It isn’t what he said that caught my attention; it was what he didn’t say. You decide for yourselves whether or not what I interpreted his answers to mean actually mean. Then ask yourself is this for real?
Question #1. Where is the oil coming from? Preston said “ they would be building their own pipeline coming from Canada and that it would take 4 to 5 years for the pipeline to be finished; just about the same time the refinery is finished.” Has Hyperion started the application process for a pipeline and we don’t know about it yet? I have been reading industry documents for almost as long as this project has been on the table around here and I have never seen where Hyperion is going to put in a pipeline. Just recently I was looking at a map of Canada and the United States and it showed every pipeline and proposed pipeline on this map, and there was not a word about Hyperion. As far as I know, one does not just wake up one morning and say – “Hey I think I’ll start building a pipeline to Elk Point.” This is a time consuming process. Look how long Keystone has been in the works. Is this another fantasy for Hyperion? I’m really getting confused here.
Question #2. Is Hyperion going to have stores, restaurants, entertainment centers, and other facilities available for the temporary workers? How about the families? Preston’s response was that they will have a dormitory facility for some of the transient workers, but they typically do not travel with their families. Some of these workers will be living in trailers and RV’s. Normally the schedule they will be working is a 14 days on and 7 days off schedule. These will be 12 hour days. Hyperion does not plan to have entertainment facilities, restaurants or other facilities for the workers. They will rely on the local economy for that. Hyperion will have law enforcement available for their areas that should be adequate and they will be asking the area communities for assistance from time to time. I interpret this to mean that what the workers do on their own time is not Hyperion’s responsibility. They are going to utilize the facilities in the surrounding areas and this will bring income to the communities. Nothing was said about assistance for a disaster such as a refinery fire. How many fire departments in this area have HAZMAT (Hazardous material) equipment to fight a refinery fire? I think that the fire crews must, by federal law in order to fight such a fire, be certified to fight that type fire. Who is going to buy the equipment? Who is going to ensure that all the volunteer fighters are HAZMAT qualified? Who is going to pay for this? How long does it take to get trained? We can who this one to death folks.
There will be 35,000 temporary 1 year jobs and 14,000 permanent jobs associated with the refinery. This information is straight out of the Steufen report over a year ago. Over how long of a period is he talking about? Are we talking 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years? It certainly isn’t something that is going to suddenly happen. Can you imagine the chaos around here if we are suddenly inundated by 35,000 people? Let’s get real folks. Can’t you see what is happening here? He is playing the numbers game, and they just don’t match. Other than the 1800 jobs mentioned in the application, this is so farfetched it is beyond goofy.
Now here is where the light bulb goes on. After the meeting I went up to Preston and asked him why Hyperion won’t just come out and say this is where the refinery is going to be built. Why do they keep saying we are just a finalist in the selection? He had this incredulous look on his face and said “Because the clean air permit has not been approved.” so I said “you mean if the permit isn’t approved you will pull up and leave town?” “That’s it.” Right On!
Hyperion is not only going to build a 200 megawatt power station and a refinery but is going to put in their own pipeline and a 4500 person housing facility and they are going to do this in 4 years. (When you wish upon a star)
This is why they took out options on the land for 4 years. They KNEW this process was going to take this long. They KNEW, and they are sitting back there saying “look at them dummies.” Well I’m here to tell you folks, the fat man hasn’t started singing yet. (Doug sings Bass)