State regulators cite Chevron for oil spill - again

Judy Fahys
Thursday, January 20, 2011

State environmental regulators have issued another violation notice against Chevron Pipe Line Co., this time for the second crude oil spill in six months at Red Butte Gardens.

That Dec. 1 spill leaked 21,000 gallons of oil from what investigators believe was a frozen valve box. Like an earlier violation notice, which detailed how the company was required to clean up 33,000 gallons from its June spill, this one does not impose any fines.

The company broke five environmental laws, according to the notice signed Wednesday by Walt Baker, director of the Utah Division of Water Quality. Regulators noted that Chevron acted swiftly after identifying the source of the December spill to prevent the crude oil from reaching Red Butte Creek.

But tests show the oil still had an impact on the water and air. “The oil discharged also impacted the ability of workers in the Red Butte Arboretum from being able to work on site without risk,” the notice said. “The contaminated soil also has the potential to mobilize and continue to threaten the groundwater until it is removed.”

The pipeline has been shut down since the spill. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker insisted on the shutdown until a third-party investigator is able to conclude the pipeline won’t threaten the city again. The federal pipeline safety office issued its own violation notice and compliance order a week after the second spill. The agency also fined Chevron $423,600, which the company already has paid.

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