We thought the Yellowstone River oil spill this past summer was a little close for comfort. Well, guess what. We got word late yesterday afternoon, with some additional information trickling in to us today that a 10-inch Conoco-Phillips pipeline, pumping unleaded gasoline from Billings to Spokane is suffering a “slow drop in pressure” somewhere between Pritchard and Cataldo. The current focus of attention is in the Enaville to Cataldo stretch.
From an email from Sandy Von Behren in Kootenai County’s Department of Emergency Management:
Yellowstone Pipeline (Conoco/Phillips) identified a small reduction in pressure in their 10” high pressure petroleum pipeline between Prichard and Cataldo this past Saturday. Yellowstone reps have walked the entire line between Prichard and Cataldo and have not located any indication of the leak on the surface. There are a couple of areas where the pipeline is exposed in the Coeur d’Alene River, but they were aware of this before and had sought permits to mitigate that particular issue.
They are currently in full response running 24-7 operations with an estimated 40 staff in place and another 40 coming this way. They plan 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. They have placed skirting and absorbent booms as a precautionary measure in the Coeur d’Alene River just below the community of Kingston and also at the Cataldo boat launch. Yellowstone Pipeline is setting up a command post this afternoon at the Silver Mountain Resort.
An update this morning from DEQ states:
Saturday the [Conoco-Philips] control center noted a slow drop in pressure in a 10 inch pipeline carrying unleaded gasoline between Prichard and Cataldo. C-P responded by lowering the pressure in the line from 900 psi to less than 400 psi where it currently remains.
C-P has monitors watching the river crossings. A containment boom has been placed at Cataldo below the boat launch and along River Road at Kingston. C-P currently is aware of two pipeline exposures in the river, one near Silver Bridge on the NF CdA River and one that was discovered last week at Kingston. The Silver Bridge exposure has grout bags draped over the pipe until a more permanent fix is done next year. The other exposure remains as it was found.
The area of interest is now between Enaville and Cataldo.
Here’s hoping we don’t have (another) huge mess on our hands in the Coeur d’Alene basin.