The Latest: Groups want leaking Alaska pipeline shut down

AP News
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Posted: Mar 07, 2017 7:34 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on an underwater natural gas pipeline leak in Alaska's Cook Inlet (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

Seven environmental groups are calling on the Trump administration to immediately shut down an underwater pipeline leaking processed natural gas into Alaska's Cook Inlet.

The groups say the leak is creating a low-oxygen dead zone that threatens endangered beluga whales, fish and other wildlife.

Hilcorp Alaska LLC estimates up to 310,000 cubic feet per day of gas is leaking from its pipe supplying fuel to four drilling platforms.

The company says it does not believe the leak creates an environmental hazard and that it's too dangerous to make repairs immediately.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued a proposed order calling for repairs or a pipeline shutdown by May 1.

The environmental groups say waiting until May could allow the release of another 16 million cubic feet of gas.

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3 p.m.

The company that owns a natural gas pipeline leaking in Alaska's Cook Inlet says it's pleased that a federal pipeline safety office has not called for an immediate repair.

Hilcorp Alaska LLC estimates that up to 310,000 cubic feet of processed natural gas is spewing daily from its underwater pipe into the inlet that's home to an endangered beluga whale population.

The company says sea ice, strong tides and haphazard weather make it too dangerous for divers to repair the leak immediately.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued a proposed order calling for repairs by May 1.

Hilcorp says its top priority is the safety of response personnel.

The company says that based on observations to date, the company believes the leak does not pose a threat to the public or the environment.

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10 a.m.

A federal pipeline safety office says natural gas leaking from an underwater pipeline in Alaska's Cook Inlet may have started flowing in December.

Gas from the pipeline was spotted bubbling to the surface Feb. 7.

But the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says a flow analysis indicates it started leaking in late December.

The agency has issued a proposed safety order requiring the line to be repaired by May 1 or shut down.

Pipeline owner Hilcorp Alaska, LLC, has 30 days to respond.

Hazardous winter conditions including sea ice and strong tides have prevented divers from repairing the leak.

The company estimates 210,000 to 310,000 cubic feet of gas daily is leaking into winter habitat of endangered beluga whales.

Environmental groups contend the gas is a threat to belugas.