Pipeline leak undergoing inspection

February 28, 2019

Plains All American Pipeline is continuing remediation this week on a pipeline that leaked crude oil in Ector County Precinct 1 last year.

The company made a request to the county on Tuesday to have a section of West Hillmont Road closed for subsurface contamination assessment and excavation. Ector County Commissioners approved temporary closure of the area spanning from Sprague Road to Mary Francis Avenue from Wednesday through Friday.

The pipeline puncture occurred on Oct. 24, 2018 and a memo was sent to Ector County Judge Debi Hays and Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton describing the situation and requesting the area be closed off, a request form for the Tuesday agenda item stated.

Shelton described the leak as an emergency.

“It spilled in the roadway and was flowing section by section,” Highways and Streets Director Evans Kessey said. “It was really bad. We helped Plains with that and traffic control. It took about 6 hours to remediate that area.”

Shelton said contamination is always a concern with pipelines running throughout West Texas.

“They’ve got to go out there to excavate, make the repairs and then you have to call and get all the authorities to inspect it,” he said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”

Kessey said the pipeline runs from east to west alongside Hillmont Road and transports crude oil to El Paso. He said added pressure on the roadway likely caused it to bust.

“I don’t blame them because we are receiving a higher amount of traffic impact on the roadway and Hillmont Road is one of the major corridor roads,” Kessey said.

The roadway was closed for about two months following the incident and Plains completed the first phase of the remediation process in late December, the request form stated.

Kessey said costs of repair would not fall on the county. He said the county is not responsible when a pipeline creates issues on roadways.

“Once they inspect it, they will patch it back to its original condition,” Shelton said.

The company anticipates that there will be an additional closure of the roadway section until all necessary activities are completed.

Shelton said he was impressed with the manner in which the leak was addressed by Plains and county staff. He said he has not received any calls from constituents about the pipeline.

“That’s usually a sign that things are taken care of properly and professionally,” he said.

When asked if he was concerned about another leak occurring in his precinct, Shelton said “it’s always a concern.”

Multiple calls were made to Plains over three days, but the company was unable to be reached for comment.