Modular housing units that could eventually house workers at Keystone XL pipeline construction camps are being stored at a former auto-salvage yard in eastern Rapid City.

Dozens of the units are fenced-in and tightly arranged on the lot of B&B Auto Salvage in a naturally tucked-away area that stretches out from the dead end of Philadelphia Street, just east of its junction with Cambell Street. A person in a vehicle marked as security was at the entrance to the site Tuesday morning.

A person who answered B&B’s phone number this week declined to speak with the Journal and offered to field questions by email, but then did not respond to an email. The most recent activity on B&B's Facebook page was in June, including a post referencing a then-upcoming liquidation auction.

The company that wants to build the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline, TC Energy (formerly known as TransCanada), has been pursuing the project since 2008. The company is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta.

The project is mired in litigation that has prevented construction from starting. If constructed, the estimated $8 billion pipeline would stretch 1,180 miles from Canada’s tar sands to Steele, Nebraska, where the crude oil could then be sent through an existing pipeline to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The project is opposed by people ranging from affected landowner-ranchers to Native American tribes and environmentalists.

In South Dakota, the pipeline would cut diagonally from the northwestern to south-central parts of state, west of the Missouri River.

A spokesperson for TC Energy sent a written statement this week in response to Journal questions about the modular units in Rapid City.

“TC Energy are currently storing work force camp modules in Rapid City,” the statement said. “The transport of these modules started in March 2019 and concluded in May. We continue to evaluate how many modules will be needed for each work force camp location; however, we can confirm all modules in Rapid City will be used for South Dakota camp locations.”

The statement also indicated that the exact location of workforce camps has not been finalized, and the spokesperson declined to say how many modular housing units are being stored in Rapid City. TC Energy is contracting with Target Logistics, of The Woodlands, Texas, to supply and set up the units, the spokesperson said.

The units stored in Rapid City appear to be sections that can be combined into larger lodges. Some sides of the units are covered in siding, and other sides are covered in plastic wrap emblazoned with the logo of Guerdon Modular Buildings, of Boise, Idaho.

A 2014 environmental impact statement about the Keystone XL pipeline said four workforce camps were anticipated in Montana, three in South Dakota and one in Nebraska. The South Dakota camps were anticipated to be in Harding, Meade and Tripp counties.

TC Energy’s most recent quarterly report to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission in March was unclear about how many camps would be constructed in South Dakota but said a new camp location had been secured in Haakon County. The report also said consideration was being given to relocating the Tripp County camp farther north.

The 2014 environmental impact statement said each camp would range in size from 50 to 100 acres. The statement also said each camp would contain 600 total beds, with 28 occupants per modular unit. The camps would function as temporary cities, complete with food service, a convenience store, fitness facilities, entertainment rooms, dining facilities, and an infirmary among other features.

Although construction of the pipeline has not begun, TC Energy conducted numerous pre-construction activities when not precluded from those activities by court orders, including the signing of haul-road agreements with counties along the pipeline route, improvements to some haul roads, and the preparing of numerous pipe yards.

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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