Seeking Cause of Phillips 66 Pipeline Leak

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 @ 05:07 PM gHale


An investigation is continuing as to how a pipeline that has a history of problems leaked as much as 1,000 barrels of gasoline near Lodge Grass, MT.

Representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline Safety Administration, Phillips 66, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Crow Tribe responded to the scene of the Seminoe Pipeline leak on reservation land.

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The amount of gasoline leaked has not been determined, said Dennis Nuss, a spokesman for Phillips 66. However, Crow Chairman Darrin Old Coyote said company representatives told him early estimates were about 1,000 barrels, or 4,200 gallons.

Phillips 66 personnel detected a leak at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in its 8-inch, below-ground Seminoe Pipeline 15 miles southwest of Lodge Grass and immediately shut it down, Nuss said.

Phillips 66’s pipeline control center in Bartlesville, OK, which monitors the company’s pipeline systems, detected the leak.

Crews were in to assess the leak, which is in the Soap Creek area, Nuss said. The company notified state, local, federal and tribal organizations.

“We are concerned,” Old Coyote said. “The leak happened on allottees’ land. We’re trying to resolve the leak and work out the details later.”

There were no injuries related to the leak and no threat to the community or water sources, he said.

“We continue to monitor the area to ensure the safety of our workers and the community,” Nuss said, adding that Phillips 66 is cooperating with other interests to clean up the area, repair the pipeline and restart the pipeline system. The cause of the leak has not been determined.

“At this time, there is no anticipated health impact to the community,” Nuss said. “The safety of the community and the environment are of the utmost importance to our company, and these priorities will guide our efforts as we work with local and state officials on the response.”

A Phillips 66 remediation team that works with the appropriate agencies on cleanup was at the leak site Thursday, Nuss said.

It’s not the first incident on the Seminoe Pipeline.

In 2004, the Conoco Pipe Line Co. agreed to pay $465,000 for environmental violations after the line broke twice in a week in 1997, spilling more than 2,300 barrels of gasoline near Lodge Grass and Banner, WY.

The oil company changed its corporate and pipeline company name after merging with Phillips Petroleum in 2002.

Underground earth movements caused the fractures in the Seminoe Pipeline at that time, according to court documents.

After cleaning up the Lodge Grass spill and making temporary repairs to the pipeline, the company laid about 3,400 feet of steel-coated replacement pipeline at a lower-than-normal depth of 6 to 8 feet below grade to avoid future ruptures from unstable soils. The company also installed strain gauges on portions of the pipeline in the area of the spill to monitor future ground movements.

This week’s leak occurred in “unusual terrain,” said Patricia Klinger of the Pipeline Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The investigation could take several days to several months, she said.

Representatives of the Pipeline Safety Administration, Phillips 66, the Environmental Protection Administration and the Crow Tribe, including historic preservation monitors, are all at the site.

The Seminoe Pipeline transports finished petroleum products such as unleaded gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel from the Billings refinery to Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.



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