Northwest NEWS

January 24, 2000

Front Page

Inslee, Eastside mayors oppose re-opening of Olympic Pipeline

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   REDMOND--Woodinville Mayor Randy Ransom and Deputy Mayor Marsha Engel joined U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, Redmond and Bellevue mayors Rosemarie Ives and Chuck Mosher, and other Eastside officials in Redmond last Thursday, Jan. 20, to officially oppose Olympic Pipe Line's (OPS) request to re-open the top 40 miles of their pipeline.

   Inslee advocates strenuous hydrostatic testing of the pipeline's entire length, from Bellingham to Portland, Oregon. The 35-year-old pipeline runs through Redmond's Willow Crest playground and residential neighborhood where Inslee and the local officials gathered.

   "Our meeting showed unanimity among Eastside cities that in order to have confidence in the pipeline, it needs hydrostatic testing," said Inslee. "Just today (Jan. 21), my staff found that the type of pipe used by OPS is subject to weld failures at its joints. We found that report on the OPS website."

   The pipeline's Bellingham explosion last June killed three boys and could have blown up a large portion of Bellingham, if one of the boys had not ignited oil in the creek before it entered the underground pipe that runs under the town. That raised local concerns, because the pipeline runs through Bothell, Woodinville, Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue.

   "Mayor Ransom has shown leadership on this issue, and we appreciate that," said Inslee.

   On Saturday, Jan. 22, Inslee gave the keynote speech at a Pipeline Safety Forum, sponsored by the Cascade Columbia Alliance (CCA), at the Seattle REI store. U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), U.S. Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-WA), and several state and local officials also planned to attend. Metcalf has introduced legislation to increase pipeline safety.

   "Our national pipeline safety laws are woefully inadequate and in need of immediate repair," said Inslee. "We need to take steps to ensure that a catastrophe like last year's never happens again. Communities along the pipeline deserve a higher degree of safety and peace of mind."

   Other forum speakers included: Stan Stephens, leader of an oil spill watchdog group at Prince William Sound, AK; Washington Rep. Kelli Linville (D-Bellingham), primary sponsor of pipeline safety legislation now before the legislative session; Carol Jolly, head of Gov. Locke's special Task Force on Pipeline Safety; Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmundson; North Bend Mayor Joan Simpson; and City of Sea-Tac City Mgr. Calvin Hoggard, who led the formation of cities along the 400-mile pipeline. Other sponsors included the Audubon Society, Friends of the Earth, the Mountaineers, Ocean Advocates, SAFE Bellingham, the Sierra Club, and WashPIRG.

   The CCA's financial backing is primarily comprised of $400,000 from Tidewater Barge Lines, which has a 100-percent monopoly of petroleum barged on the Columbia. The CCA was formed after OPS proposed a Cross-Cascade Pipeline, which would make a major gouge into Tidewater's oil-barging profits on the Columbia. But the Bellingham blast has virtually made the Cross-Cascade pipeline a moot issue.

   Olympic Pipe Line is the target of criminal and civil investigations connected to the 280,000-gallon spill into the Bellingham city park.