Northwest NEWS

November 23, 1998


Maltby resident finds signing with Olympic is not worth the risk

My Maltby-area property lies within the Olympic Pipe Line Company's easement corridor for their proposed Cross-Cascade oil pipeline. When Olympic offered me $1,500 for my easement signature, I first thought, wow! Hay money for my horses.

   Then I realized the pipeline company required full access to my property that would/could continue for months. Later, I found out that they also wanted access to be able to check on the line(s) whenever they pleased. All that for a mere $1,500?

   I was steaming at the nerve they had for even approaching me. Telling me that all the other neighbors had already signed was not true.

   Aside from those little inconveniences, knowing what I do now, I'm glad I looked into that little agreement. The easement, for one, and the possibility of two pipelines full of hazardous, toxic materials did not and still does not appeal to me. Ruptures happen.

   Pinhole leaks, not an uncommon phenomenon in pipelines, are hard to detect. Fuel oil can drip for months into surrounding soils and groundwater, causing plenty of problems there, or it can volitalize into highly combustible fumes--hazards I do not want running by my home.

   To top off these dangers, easement contract holders assume superfund liability. Under the Model Toxics Control Act, RCW 70.105D.040(3)(a)(iii), "the property owner is legally responsible for a spill of hazardous product on the owner's property by Olympic Pipe Line if the spill occurs in connection with a contractual relationship existing, directly or indirectly," between Olympic and the property owners.

   Property owners, don't be fooled by threats of eminent domain for the pipeline. To qualify for eminent domain, Olympic has to prove a pipeline, in this route, is needed for public benefit. They have a long way to go on that score and signing off for so little compensation is not worth the unwarranted risks and liability.

Judy C. Kielhamer, Maltby