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Feds are failing in pipeline oversight, says Utah governor

Published March 31, 2013 9:24 am

Environment • Guv wants the state to take a more active role in wake of recent spills.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The state will take a more active role in inspecting gas pipelines to prevent future leaks, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday, in the wake of last week's 27,000-gallon diesel spill from a Chevron pipeline at Willard Bay State Park.

"If anything has been disappointing in these past couple of weeks, it has been this Chevron oil spill. This is just not acceptable," Herbert said during his monthly KUED news conference. "We need to take a more proactive stance as a state."

Herbert said the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration is failing to ensure the integrity of the pipelines across Utah. His administration will work with the Utah departments of commerce and environmental quality to see if the state can take a more active oversight role, he said.

The Willard Bay leak marked the third pipeline spill in three years, after two spills in 2010 released more than 54,000 gallons of crude oil near Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City.

"Obviously, [federal regulators] have not done a very good job of overseeing the pipes that travel between our states, and this is just not an acceptable situation," the governor said.

He said the state will make sure that Chevron meets its obligations in cleaning up the Willard Bay spill. And not only will the state take steps to ensure the federal officials meet their obligations, "we'll augment that and we'll make sure we stop these spills from happening."

After the 2010 spills, Chevron paid an estimated $43 million in cleanup costs, fines and other spill-related expenses.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke