Earthquakes, floods, traffic accidents, erosion, tree destruction, explosives, sanitation.
These were the main concerns raised this week by Bountiful-area citizens who are determined to make things as difficult as possible for companies that want to put a natural-gas pipeline through Bountiful's mountains.At the request of the city, Lonni Newton, an engineer for Kern River Pipeline Co., and Earl Morgan, an engineer for Northwest Pipeline Co., attended a public meeting Wednesday to discuss measures their companies would take to ensure safety and minimal damage to the environment.
About 150 people packed City Hall to ask questions, most of which centered on the transportation of pipe, fuel and crews through Bountiful neighborhoods and up fragile canyons that have narrow, winding dirt roads.
Aerial photographic maps were displayed, showing the exact routes of the pipeline. Dozens of residents examined the maps carefully to see how close the pipeline would come to their homes and whether its path would be visible from their yards.
Kern River is planning to build a 900-mile pipeline that would carry natural gas from southwestern Wyoming to markets in southern California. The route, known as the "Wasatch Variation," has created a great deal of controversy in Bountiful, whose City Council and mayor remain opposed to the route.
The city has also refused to grant easements through some of its watershed property pending an appeal of a Forest Service decision that allows the pipeline through forest land.
"I'm concerned about the large equipment that will be coming through our back yards," resident Brent Manning said. He also asked whether new roads would have to be built from the existing canyon roads to gain access to the pipeline right of way. Manning said the city should make it "difficult if not impossible" for the companies to build new roads.
Councilwoman Renee Coon, a vocal opponent to the pipeline route, asked whether existing roads in Mueller or North canyons would have to be widened.
"I think you are avoiding some of these questions," Coon told the pipeline officials. "We've been told these roads would have to be improved . . . I know that in North Canyon the road has been staked and the stakes are on the other side of the creek."
Morgan said that he doubted "very seriously" that the companies could build a new road. But Newton conceded that North Canyon creek will "possibly have to be moved."
Newton said trucks with flatbed trailers would haul up to five pieces of 40-foot-long sections of pipe, prompting a number of jeers from the audience.
"I have trouble getting my Blazer up there," said property owner Bob Arbuckle. "I don't know how you're going to get a 40-foot piece of equipment up there."
Morgan said that if it is impossible to get equipment and supplies up the canyon roads, they will be transported down the pipeline right of way from Morgan County.
Councilman Harold Shafter said he was concerned about the lack of federal regulations on compacting the backfill. "If you don't compact properly, you're going to get voids, erosion and holes up there."
Morgan assured Shafter that mulching and other methods will be adequate.
On other issues, the company officials said:
- The pipeline has been designed to "withstand the (seismic) movements expected along the Wasatch Fault."
- "Water bars" and other features will be built to protect the pipeline from flooding.
- No worker camps would be erected in the canyons above Bountiful.
- Foremen would "supervise" their crews to make sure they use portable toilet facilities.
- Dynamite and blasting caps will be used and stored according to state regulations.
While Kern River has already begun construction on portions of the pipeline in southwestern Utah, crews aren't expected to begin on the 3 1/2-mile section in the mountains above Bountiful until June. It is expected to take up to three months to complete that section.
"You're aware that in October, World War III breaks out?" Councilman Leslie Foy said, referring to the annual deer hunt.
Meanwhile, Kern River still must overcome a stiff fight being waged by a the Bountiful Hills Residents and Concerned Citizens Association, which has an appeal pending in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.