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Pipeline that leaked into Willard Bay fails test; more to come

By Mike Anderson | Posted - May 1st, 2013 @ 5:09pm


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WILLARD BAY STATE PARK — Chevron's oil pipeline near Willard Bay's north marina failed a pressure test Monday, pushing back the opening of the marina further.

The pipeline extends from Salt Lake City to Burley, Idaho, and leaked 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel near Willard Bay in March. Since then, more than 450 barrels of oil have been removed from the wetlands. During a test Monday, the Chevron pipeline failed within a fraction of the federally required minimum yield strength.

Chevron spokesman Gareth Johnstone says the cause of the failure is under investigation. Workers plan another test this week. The pipeline has been operating at 80 percent of normal since April.

Park officers have pushed back the marina's opening date from Memorial Day to early June. They said people stop by the marina's gate every day.

"It's a tradition for a lot of people to come here and use this campground, and use these beach areas," said Lt. Eric Stucki.

Last week, some trace amounts of diesel fuel were found in the treatment area, but the state Department of Environmental Quality said it is not seeping out into the reservoir and does not pose any immediate concerns for human health.

"We don't want a public safety issue out here. So we're working closely with them to find out when it's best that we can allow the public back in the park," Stucki said.

Chevron is working to restore the area, but some environmentalists worry that the failed pressure test may be an indication of an aging pipeline.

"This is just an example of a symptom of something that needs to be addressed, and needs to be addressed quite soon," said Lynn de Frietas, with Friends of The Great Salt Lake.

Chevron's pipeline was built during the 1950's. The company has said before that preventing leaks like this one depends more on maintenance than age, and in following federal standards. But Frietas said she is frustrated with the number of pipeline leaks seen along the Wasatch Front recently. In three years, there have been three leaks.

"It's very disconcerting to think this is probably what we have to look forward to," Frietas said.

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