Chevron Shuts, Purges Utah Pipeline

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @ 03:12 PM gHale

After two oil spills in the last six months, a federal agency approved Chevron’s plan to purge oil from a troubled pipeline in the Salt Lake City area.

The purge is part of Chevron’s implementation of a federal corrective action order issued after the Dec. 1 spill near the Red Butte Ampititheater. The purge will begin as early as today at 7 a.m. and could last 48 hours.

Chevron hopes it will remove the remaining oil in the line they can complete work required in the corrective active order.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker flew to Washington D.C. earlier this month to meet with federal regulators about the troubled pipeline. As a result, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is now forbidding Chevron to restart the pipeline.

“This pipeline will not be restarted, which they have the authority to direct without the assurances that our public and our environment is going to be protected,” said Becker.

Chevron will not be able to restart the line until they meet specific long and short-term goals.

The Utah Division of Water Quality said water quality tests shows toxins did end up in Red Butte Creek after the second oil spill. The organization said the toxins are likely the result of oil vapors that drifted over and deposited into the stream. They believe no visible crude entered the water.

The second spill leaked about 200 barrels of oil near the Red Butte Ampititheater, which is near Red Butte Creek and Liberty Park. Chevron said there was a containment vault in place and that most of the oil ended up there. Back in June, a rupture in the same pipeline spilled about 30,000 gallons into Red Butte Creek, also flowing into Liberty Park pond and further into the Jordan River.