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Pipeline at Willard Bay fails pressurization test

Published: Wednesday, May 1 2013 5:50 p.m. MDT

Chevron crews continue work on their petroleum pipeline clean up and testing at Willard Bay State Park Wednesday, May 1, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

WILLARD BAY STATE PARK — Chevron's pipeline that runs adjacent to I-15 at Willard Bay State Park has once again been idled, this time for failing a pressurization test.

The failure happened between Bear River and Ogden in a stress test conducted Monday under the supervision of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration.

Gareth Johnstone, a Chevron spokesman, said the standard operating pressure of the pipeline is 1,870 pounds per square inch and it failed at 2,606 pounds per square inch — or within 2.3 percent of the range where the pipeline would be expected to fail.

"It is a process that you are expected to go through," he said.

Still, the failure means more investigation for Chevron and more scrutiny for the 760-mile pipeline that runs from Salt Lake City and ultimately ends in Spokane, Wash.

Federal investigators believe a failure of the seam in a section of the pipeline caused a March 18 spill of an estimated 600 barrels of diesel fuel. The diesel saturated some wetlands, contaminated nearby groundwater and some trickled into Willard Bay.

Since then, the northern half of the bay and the state park's north marina and campground have been closed, creating frustration for the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation.

"We are coming up on the busiest part of the season and this is the third most visited park in our system," said spokeswoman Deena Loyal. "It is a huge impact to us, our revenues, to have this park closed."

Loyal said the park will remain closed through the Memorial Day weekend and the division is just taking it day by day after that.

"We're still in a holding pattern," she said.

The park is accepting reservations for June, but that also remains a flexible situation as well.

"The public has been understanding and good to work with us," she said. But she fears many of the anglers and campers are simply staying away altogether because the southern section hasn't been that busy. "We feel pretty much that people are finding other places to recreate."

Loyal said Monday's test failure confirms their concerns that the park should remain closed until public health can be assured.

"We definitely continue to have concerns over public health and public safety," she said. "We will rely on the science and the testing from the state Department of Environmental Quality to determine when we can open."

The environmental agency in its latest update reports that trace concentrations of diesel-related contaminants continue to be detected in the treatment area. Chevron, it said, is routing clean water around the treatment area which will allow scientists to better determine the extent of soils contamination.

The agency noted that removing the water from the treatment area has dried up the beaver ponds, where six beavers have been rescued. The animals continue to recover at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah.

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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