Bountiful residents worry about safety, environment if Tesoro brings pipeline through city
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
BOUNTIFUL — A group of Bountiful residents are concerned about Tesoro's proposed crude oil pipeline that could take the unrefined oil down one of the city's major thoroughfares.
Residents who came to Bountiful High School on Thursday for an open house about the proposed Uinta Express Pipeline had a lot to say as a 45-day public comment period gets underway.
Many were concerned that Tesoro's preferred route will come west from Summit and Morgan counties near The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Bountiful Temple and continue down 400 North to the Holly Refinery in Woods Cross.
"It's 1,200 (pounds per square inch) coming by my house of crude oil," said Ken Tuttle, who told Tesoro representatives at the meeting he doesn't want the underground pipeline passing his historic home on 400 North.
"The people who are here (at the open house) listened, but the people who are here aren't making the decisions," Tuttle said. "There are other easements they can follow. There are other pipelines they can follow that are already in existence. Why can't they follow the pipelines that are already there?"
In addition to safety concerns, 400 North resident and vocal pipeline opponent Crystal Burnham said the idea of tearing up the major street is unacceptable.
"If they've got it torn up it will block me coming and going from my house," Burnham said. "They gave the impression this (meeting) would be an area to come voice our opinion, and then when we get here, it's just a promotion for them."
The 12-inch pipeline could carry up to 60,000 gallons of waxy crude oil per day from multiple companies in the Uinta Basin to Salt Lake area refineries, taking the equivalent of 250 trucks off U.S. 40 and I-80, according to Michael Gebhardt, Tesoro vice president of business development.
The company is aiming to have the potentially 135-mile pipeline operational by the end of 2016.
"As we map this out, a few things we're looking at and criteria for the route, we're looking to minimize impact to communities and sensitive areas. We're definitely looking to maximize existing rights-of-way and to find utility corridors, and safety is always a first consideration," Gebhardt said. "We feel like it's a safe and more efficient way to transport crude oil from Uinta Basin to Salt Lake City."
Tesoro representatives hope meetings like Thursday's open house will answer questions and solicit community feedback as the proposal moves through these early, exploratory stages, Gebhardt said.
Because routes cross 15 acres of U.S. Forest Service land, the project requires an environmental impact study and must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.
Kenwyn Derby and Mike Woodruff, who live near Bountiful High, said they are especially concerned about the pipeline's environmental impact, whether it's cutting off their family's favorite trails during construction or consequences for air quality if area refineries ratchet up their production.
"I live here in the inversion season. I feel like my family is being poisoned by the air here during inversions, and I know that industry is part of it," Woodruff said. "They're going to want to increase their production because the pipeline is there and because they can."
Instructions for submitting public comment and more information about the pipeline proposal can be found at www.uintaexpresspipeline.com. The comment period closes March 17.
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