Santa Barbara- S County

Plains All American Pipeline Company proposes replacing damaged pipeline

New technology and smaller pipe is proposed

Plains All American Pipeline proposal...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Plains All American Pipeline Company is moving to replace its damaged pipeline rather than make repairs.

The oil and natural gas transportation company went public this week with its next step following the devastating 100,000 gallon crude oil spill of May 19, 2015.

A Dallas-based representative with the company was in Santa Barbara Wednesday to reveal proposed changes to replace lines 901 and 903 along mostly existing easements, at an estimated cost of more than $300 million dollars.

"We're proposing a reroute around the city of Buellton, farther north to the Sisquoc station," Karen Rugaard told NewsChannel 3.

Rugaard, Stakeholder Relations Manager for Plains All American Pipeline, said she is spending considerable time in California updating the public on the company's future plans.

Running a new section of the pipeline through agricultural land roughly one mile west of Buellton's city limits is just one of the changes proposed. The company is moving forward in hopes of replacing and restarting its pipeline that runs from Santa Barbara County through San Luis Obispo County and into Kern County.

Rugaard revealed other proposed changes including a smaller diameter, thicker pipe -- half the size of the current 24 inch to 36 inch type -- which, if approved, would operate under half the pressure.

"It would be built with thicker-walled pipe than is required by local, state and federal regulations," Rugaard said. "We would also be increasing the number of valves on the pipeline to about 50 valves. That's an increase of about 30 valves along the entire approximately 130 mile length of the pipeline."

Rugaard said the replacement pipeline would be made of uninsulated steel rather than insulated because corroded insulation in the current pipeline was found to be a "contributing factor" to the pipe break and spill. Rugaard cited findings in a report by US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

"The pipeline would be monitored 24 hours a day, the pressures and flows so that we can work to maintain safe and responsible operation of the line," Rugaard said.

The company anticipates the permitting process to take a couple of years; construction of the pipeline is expected to take at least another 1 to 2 years after that.

Rugaard said Plains All American Pipeline filed a permit application for a replacement project in San Luis Obispo County Wednesday; the same permitting process took place in Santa Barbara County Tuesday. Rugaard said paperwork will be filed in the coming weeks in Kern County.

Rugaard said extreme delays in the process could force the company to make repairs to the damaged pipeline rather than replace the structure.

NewsChannel 3 reached out to the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) in Santa Barbara for comment. Staff Attorney Maggie Hall said staffers will review the permits before releasing a statement.

Editor's Note: A statement from the EDC on a separate offshore oil and gas issue that was included has been removed as it had no link to this particular topic. 


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