Proposal could bring petroleum pipeline
Pipeline would run from north of Bothell through Snoqualmie Valley to Pasco
by Jeff Switzer
Olympic Pipe Line Company is planning to submit an application to the State by late 1995, early 1996 for a 220-mile Cross-Cascades Pipeline running from north of Bothell to Pasco.
But Olympic will have to hurdle more than just the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, the state agency who will receive the application: they will also have to get past public opposition to the project.
During the process of getting approval, the Cascade Columbia Alliance will oppose the pipeline because of potential environmental degradation and the fact the pipeline crosses the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and Wenatchee National Forests, the Cle Elum, Yakima, and Columbia Rivers, and alongside four wildlife refuges.
The proposed pipeline would commence construction in 1997 and would take one year to build. When completed, it would deliver motor gasoline, diesel fuel, and aviation jet fuel from Western Washington refineries across the Cascades to Central and Eastern Washington.
Olympic has operated a similar 400-mile pipeline running north-south since 1965. It is the only company in Western Washington that transports gasoline and diesel fuel by underground pipeline.
Olympic says that the demand for refined fuel has increased in Central and Eastern Washington due to job and population growth. Olympic maintains that while refineries in Montana and Salt Lake City have been able to meet the demand, meeting the future fuel demands of Washington will require "significant increase in either tanker trucks crossing the Cascades or oil barge traffic on the Columbia River."
The Cascade Columbia Alliance alleges that because underground pipeline accidents are more difficult to detect and can go undetected for long periods of time, the "pristine woods and mountain water" along the proposed route are "at risk."
The Alliance adds that building pipelines is a way to avoid adhering to the strict environmental guidelines vessels do, and is a way to circumvent the regulations and the agencies barges and tankers are required to abide by.
Cascade Columbia Alliance notes that since the Exxon Valdez spill, the tug and barge industry has taken steps to prevent their own disasters, and similarly asks Olympic that:
Olympic maintains that they have been transporting fuel safely for thirty years, transporting approximately 4 billion gallons per year, spilling "less than a gallon per million."
- oil be put in double-walled pipelines;
- pipelines are built above ground so that leaks are visible;
- place spill response equipment along the entire pipeline, rather than only near major river crossings;
- install automatic leak detection devices that can measure both small and large leaks;
- install automatic shutdowns; and
- inspect the pipeline daily, rather than weekly flyovers.
Olympic adds that it has moved more than 30 billion gallons of fuel in the past eight years without "one drop reaching the waters of Washington."