Wednesday, October 5, 2011

BREAKING: Yellowstone Pipeline loses pressure in Idaho, indicating a possible leak

Posted on Wed, Oct 5, 2011 at 10:53 AM

The Yellowstone Pipeline running from Billings, Mont., to Spokane has lost pressure, indicating a possible leak between Prichard and Cataldo in Idaho.

According to Sandy Von Behren, Kootenai County's emergency manager, crews from ConocoPhillips have responded and are following the company's protocol to identify the reason for the drop in pressure.

"They've walked the line all the way from Prichard to Cataldo. They've also done some aerials," Von Behren says. "So far they haven’t been able to identify a leak."

The loss of pressure in a ten-inch pipe carrying unleaded gasoline was first noticed on Saturday. ConocoPhillips responded by lowering the pressure in the line. According to electronic correspondence between officials in Idaho, the company plans to "purge the line of fuel and place a PIG (a pipeline inspection gauge) in the pipeline using water to propel it as they continue to assess for any leakage. If they do not find any leakage, they may have to start digging up the pipeline in the area of concern."

According to the emails, 40 emergency crew members are in place with another 40 on their way. River crossings of the pipeline are being monitored, and a containment boom is in place near the Cataldo boat launch and in Kingston along River Road.

The Inlander previously reported on this pipeline and the city of Spokane's negotiations for a ten-year "franchise agreement" with ConocoPhillips. The pipeline runs over the Spokane Valley Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, the region's sole source of drinking water.

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