"How close would the pipeline be to waterways?" "How would a potential leak be stopped?" "Will the pipeline run through any sensitive areas?"
These are just a few of the questions that members of the public and the Summit County Council have asked representatives of Tesoro, the company overseeing the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline, which could run for 36 miles across the east side of the county.
Monday marks the last day that members of the public can submit questions regarding the pipeline to the U.S. Forest Service, the agency coordinating the project's environmental impact statement (EIS) process. At Wednesday's County Council meeting, Council members reviewed and added questions to the list that they will submit to the Forest Service.
Much of the dialogue at Wednesday's meeting centered on questions the Council felt went either unanswered or not fully answered during last week's meeting when Tesoro representatives were quizzed by Council members.
The pipeline would pump either black or yellow waxy crude oil, which needs to be at a temperature of 95 F or 115 F, respectively, in order to remain liquid and continue flowing. Although Tesoro does not know precisely how hot the waxy crude will be at its origin to remain at those temperatures for the entirety of its 135-mile, 40-hour journey, an estimate of 175 F was stated.
Council Chair Chris Robinson expressed the necessity for Tesoro to have a "foolproof" mitigation plan should a spill occur.
"They need to come up with a precise plan. Would it consist of isolation valves?" Robinson said. "The consequences of a leak in our Upper Weber River watershed would be catastrophic."
Councilman Roger Armstrong said that, since the oil is supposed to retain sufficient heat in the insulated pipe for its whole journey, it suggests to him that it does not lose its heat rapidly.
"If a leak happens one mile from the start of the pipeline, that would be 175-degree oil pouring out and it would take a long time to solidify," Armstrong said. "What temperature would the oil be if it leaked near the Weber River? How big of a leak would it be? How long would the clean-up take?"
Armstrong went on to emphasize that under no circumstance should there be a scenario where the pipeline could spill into any of Summit County's waterways. Robinson said he was not sure if that was physically possible, but suggested the pipeline should be moved away from waterways.
Among the questions the Council prepared for the Forest Service are:
The northern, or preferred, route would be 135 miles long and would run northwest from Duchesne County and through 14 miles of the Uinta National Forest before going through Woodland and Francis. It would then bear north and then northwest past Peoa, around the east side of Rockport Reservoir, under Interstate 80 past Wanship and Hoytsville, before tracking west near Coalville until it reaches refineries near North Salt Lake.
Written comments about the Uinta Express Pipeline are due March 17 and can be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , by fax to 801-253-8118 or by hand or mail to:
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Supervisor's Office
857 West South Jordan Parkway
South Jordan, UT 84095-8594