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Questar pipeline meeting attracts crowd, concerned comments

Sun Advocate reporter

Developed using Questar's proposed specifications, the above map approximates the path of the new gas pipeline the company proposes to construct through Carbon County next year. During a public meeting last week, Questar representatives indicated that involved landowners will soon be contacted about negotiating for the rights of way for the pipeline, intended to deliver natural gas to many of the company's out-of-state customers.

Last Tuesday's meeting between Questar representatives and local residents attracted a large crowd and dozens of comments, many of which were not supportive of the project.

The topic of discussion was a proposed pipeline that will run through the middle of Carbonville

"This line crosses property my family bought as an investment years ago," pointed out Harvey Howard, a Carbonville resident. "I worry it will not only devalue our property, but we also have plans for that property. In fact, where the line is planned runs right under my bedroom in a house I want to build there."

The pipeline is called Questar's southern system expansion project (SXXP).

Questar is proposing to expand the company's existing pipeline system to meet increasing demand for deliveries of natural gas in various places throughout the West.

The proposed expansion will include constructing and operating the pipeline, along with some new compression facilities.

The proposed line would be an underground, welded steel pipeline that is approximately 18-miles long and 24-inches in diameter, primarily located adjacent to Questar's existing main line beginning about 14 miles east of Price near Soldier Creek Canyon approximately one-half mile south of the coal mine and ending four miles west of U.S. Highway 6 near an existing company valve facility.

As part of the pipeline construction, Questar would also construct associated above-ground valves and install cathodic protection and pig launcher/receiver facilities.

In addition to the pipeline and associated facilities, Questar would construct two new compressor stations adjacent to its existing southern pipeline system.

The 5,800-horsepower Thistle Creek Compressor Station would be constructed on private land in Utah County north of Indianola, approximately 37 miles northwest of Price.

The 9,400-horsepower Water Canyon compressor station would be constructed on federal property regulated by the United States Bureau of Land Management in Duchesne County. The site in question is located approximately 35 miles northeast of Price.

Additionally, the company is proposing modifications within the fenced yards of the existing Oak Spring compressor station in Carbon County.

The crowd of more than 100 people who attended the meeting had questions involving two areas of concern:

•How the pipeline will affect private property in Carbonville.

•What the company's future intentions are with regard to Nine Mile Canyon. The canyon is located near the site where the proposed pipeline begins.

"I am curious about why you need a new pipeline coming from that area," stated Pam Miller, an archeologist and member of the Nine Mile Coalition. "I wonder about a large pipeline like this with very little to feed into it. Are there plans for more pipelines to feed it from Nine Mile Canyon?"

Officials from Questar said the line was to provide more pressure and capacity for existing gas supplies that are fed into the line. An official from the BLM also answered the question.

"No pipelines we have looked at are planned for location in Nine Mile," said Mark Mackiewicz of the agency. "The fact is that the canyon is not a feasible place to put in a pipeline."

Exchanges between members of the public attending the meeting were also quite common during the meeting, with various people talking back and forth, particularly if they had opposing viewpoints.

"We can't go back in time and to improve our country we need to compromise to do what is best for all," stated Bob Tanner, another Carbonville resident. "I think we need to guard against exaggerating each of our points of view. We all need gas to heat our homes. I think as residents we are more impacted by subdivisions being built in the area than we are by a pipeline running through it."

After that comment, Tanners remarks were referred to a few times by those who question the viability of the pipeline. One member of the audience directed his comments directly toward Tanner's stand.

"I bought 720 acres 20 years ago in Carbonville as an investment," stated Vic Santi. "People may need gas but they need houses too. This whole project could cause me problems, because I am planning on putting a subdivision in that area."

Santi then asked Tanner if he would like to buy the property since he supported the project. Tanner said he would not be interested.

Questar officials at the meeting also insisted, despite the onslaught of questions about why the line had to run through Carbonville in a new location and away from another line that was installed before, that they needed the new route because there wasn't enough room in the old right-of-way for another line.

Another subject that came up was the present facility located on Wood Hill Road, where the company plans to expand operations.

Residents began to comment about that facility and how, before part of it was closed down a few years ago, it made the whole area smell badly.

"I can't put any kind of price on my family's health," said one woman who spoke out from the audience when the subject of the expansion came up. "Can you give me a date when you will be testing the air quality out there so we know if it is harmful. Someone should be doing that."

Questar representatives pointed out that the Wood Hill Road facility is not part of the project that was under consideration at the meeting because it is a separate issue. However they did answer some questions about it just the same.

They explained that the plant used to be operated for odorizing gas but that would not be its function any more. The new function would facilitate distribution and compression.

That brought more comments, this time about noise from the plant. But officials were undeterred.

"I feel we need to get back on track here," said Russell Kirlin, community relations manager for Questar. "The pipeline is what we are here to discuss and we should stay on that subject."

Many residents also asked questions about the right-of-ways across their property and how those rights would be handled.

They were told that if they had not been contacted already, company spokesmen would be getting in touch with them soon to negotiate the terms for those agreements.

Questar officials had a document called "An interstate gas facility on my land?" available at the meeting. One of the things the document explains is that if an agreement can't be reached with a landowner on a right-of-way, then the company may gain the right through a court order to go ahead anyway, with compensation to the land owner being determined by that court.

As for a time line on construction, Questar is presently taking comments on the pipeline, with the meeting on Tuesday being the centerpiece of that effort.

Based on the comments received during the consultation and public meetings, the company will finalize its field survey plans and initiate additional field surveys in the spring of 2004.

By late summer, Questar expects to complete field survey reports and its environmental analyses of the proposed facilities in order to submit its applications and applicant-prepared draft Environmental Assessment (EA) in September.

Assuming comments and issues about the project are not significant, Questar expects to receive its federal approvals by the end of 2004 and would then finalize its construction plans to commence building the proposed facilities as soon as March, 2005 for an in-service date of October 31, 2005.

More information on the project can be received by going to Questar's website at or at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission site at

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