Parker County residents continued to express their frustrations this week with the ONEOK Arbuckle II Pipeline work that is coming through their properties, and the company responded to those concerns.
ONEOK, out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced construction on the 24-inch pipeline in November 2018, which will travel 530 miles through 15 counties, and will come through the western portion of Parker County.
“I don’t know what else to do. They have destroyed my place, absolutely destroyed my place, and have done nothing they said they were going to do. I’m devastated and it looks like a super highway is going through my property,” resident Debra Sue Waters said. “I posted something on Facebook and made a comment on [ONEOK’s] page, but it was deleted within minutes.”
ONEOK Communications Manager Brad Borror said the company goes to great lengths to ensure individual land owners come to an agreement with compensation.
“Before our construction crews enter the property to begin work, we send out our survey crews who mark the boundaries of the easement areas with survey markers. It is our expectation that our crews remain within those boundaries,” Borror said. “If a landowner believes that we or our contractors have been outside of the agreed upon easement areas, we want them to contact us directly so that we can investigate and make appropriate adjustments.”
The pipeline is also going through resident Larry Walden’s property. He said he has attempted to limit the damage they are doing to his land.
“Through my attorney, I have attempted to limit the damage they will do. They accuse me of bullying them,” Walden said. “They again trespassed on my property and much like the first time, left trash and basically did whatever they wanted outside the right of way on my property.”
Borror said notifying residents of work on their property is not a daily obligation.
“In some agreements we are obligated to provide prior notice before accessing the property; however, even in those agreements where notice is required, the obligation to notify a landowner begins at the start of construction and is not an ongoing daily obligation to notify the landowner each time one of our employees or contractors enters the area,” Borror said.
Waters said she has continued to express her concerns to her land agent who then brought a damages agreement for her to sign in order to receive $3,000 for fencing on Waters’ property.
“He’s got a receipt I have to sign in order to get a $3,000 check and basically it’s a damage agreement release from any liability or any claims against the company for the future and now,” Waters said. “It has nothing to do with a fence. So in order to get my measly $3,000, I had to sign my life away. I told him to forget it.”
Waters sent the Weatherford Democrat the agreement document, which states, “For settlement of all reasonable and customary damages of every kind and character, arising out of the initial construction and installation of the pipeline, the undersigned hereby releases and discharges, in full, ONEOK, its officers, managers, members, agents, contractors, employees, successors, and assigns, from all claims, damages, injuries and causes of action of whatsoever kind or nature, which have accrued or which may hereafter develop or accrue to the undersigned, caused by or resulting from the construction of the Arbuckle II Pipeline pursuant to, and across the property more particularly described in, the ‘Right-of-Way Agreement.’”
Borror said sometimes there are concerns from residents that were not addressed in the original agreements.
“Sometimes during construction, a landowner may identify additional concerns or requests that were not originally contemplated in the landowner agreements, such as additional fencing or other unintended or accidental damages,” Borror said. “When approached about these issues, we often work with the landowner to identify opportunities to address the concerns in accordance with easement agreements and any applicable laws or regulations.
“Restoration of areas affected during pipeline construction is a key focus for the company. We consider landowner concerns in our restoration activities, including working with them to determine the appropriate seed mixes and plant species to be used in their area.”
Waters said the situation is not about the money.
“It’s just the way they’ve treated the landowners. I have never been an activist, so this is not something I normally do, but I got mad,” Waters said. “The way they treat people when you repeatedly ask them to just give you notice so you can put your horses up, that’s wrong. This is my home. My whole thing is, I got paid for this right of way, and it’s not about the money, it’s the way they’ve treated these landowners.”
According to ONEOKE Arbuckle II Pipeline documents, there are 10 phases to complete the project and was recently finishing up stage 2, the clearing phase.
“ONEOK takes great pride in and has a reputation for treating landowners fairly when constructing pipeline projects. We go to great lengths and work tirelessly with each individual landowner to come to an agreement that compensates them for the right to construct the pipeline across their property and for related expenses,” Borror said. “We are committed to fulfilling our obligations, which vary from landowner to landowner, outlined in these agreements. We appreciate the ongoing cooperation of all stakeholders as we work to complete this project.”