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Consultant expects 'straight answers' in Chevron pipeline investigation

By Marc Giauque | Posted - Dec. 16, 2010 at 1:19 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City's mayor is introducing the man who'll evaluate the Chevron pipeline that has been the source of two major leaks in recent months.

Rick Kuprewicz has been hired by the city to look at everything from the physical to the operational aspects of the line. The city says his expertise deals especially with pipelines in high-population areas.

Kuprewicz, a chemical engineer, runs a Seattle consulting firm that has been involved in investigations into other pipeline disasters, including the natural gas pipeline rupture in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people and destroyed more than 30 homes.

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"I'm going to ask them very specific questions," said Kuprewicz in a news conference at the mayor's office Thursday morning. "I'm looking for the overall process system that tells me that the operation has this pipeline system under control."

Kuprewicz said he expects and usually gets straight answers throughout his investigation, which may take up to two months. But he said that doesn't necessarily mean the pipeline will remain closed down that whole time. To this point, he has not met with anyone from Chevron.

Ultimately, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has the say on when or if oil will flow through the pipeline again. But Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker does believe the city will have a voice.

"I think as long as we stay in good communications with all of our partners in this, we will continue to have a very strong and forceful voice in this," Becker said.

Meanwhile, Chevron has begun to purge the troubled pipeline of all its residual oil. The two-day effort will remove oil between a pump station at Hanna and the company's refinery as part of repair work supervised by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

E-mail: mgiauque@ksl.com

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Marc Giauque

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