A Walking Tour - page1

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A simple documentary record of what is theretoday.

Below are the thumbnails of the photos I took today, Tuesday, July20, 1999, between 1:30pm and 3 pm, on a walking tour at Whatcom FallsPark. Thor Cutler, EPA coordinator for the cleanup, provided theguided tour. The photos are presented below in the order they weretaken. We started at the rupture site next to the city watertreatment plant, walked down Hannah Creek, cut over to where theTrans Mountain natural gas line goes to and under the creek, and thenwalked down a new trail to the Whatcom Creek gorge where theexplosion was some of the most intense. We then came back, circlingbetween the two large water tanks.

I have added what caption information as best I can. If youspot an error, please email me at john@fairhaven.comand I'll correct the info. The idea is to present a clear picture ofwhat is there - not dramatize it, not try to make it look worse orbetter than it is. The intention is to allow these photos to stand asa record of today for reference by citizens. Again, any correctionsor additional information for the captions will be most welcome.

In keeping with our NW Citizenpolicy, most anyone and most any organization can download thesephotos and use them without restriction and without cost. I do askthat a credit of '©1999 nwcitizen.com' be shown next to theborder of the photo. The large photos are exactly as the camera tookthe picture. I used a digital camera. There is no cropping ormodifications to any photos.

There are 54 photos. Click on any photo to see a full sizedversion of 60K to 100K in size.

To page 2, the second 18photos, # 19 to 36.

To page 3, the last 18photos, # 37 to 54.

#1 - Where the leak occurred - at the far end of the photo, belowthe large white pipe, is the location of the 277,200 gallon leak.This view looks south, with the water treatment plant on the left,out of the picture. The pipeline ran down the trench, under my feetand over Whatcom Creek, behind me. All this area was excavated overthe last two weeks and the soil shipped to Tacoma for cleaning (Ithink burning). The soil in this photo is fresh fill trucked in overthe past week or so.

I think the large white pipe is a concrete water pipe that is themain feed of water from Lake Whatcom to the water treatment plant. Ihaven't read much about this, but this pipe was only 5 or 6 feet fromthe leak.




#2 - A close-up of the location of the leak area. The ripped uppipe has been taken out and shipped to Washington DC for analysis.What is left is the stubs of some water pipes . One of those pipes, Ithink the one with the unplugged opening, came within 7 inches - thatis 7 inches - of the Olympic gasoline carrying pipe. This seemsastounding. One does not need to be an engineer to use common sense.That is way too close. Here you can see how crowded the pipeswere.

You can see the cut off end of the Olympic pipe in the shadow onthe bottom of the trench. It is the right most pipe end in thephoto.





#3 - Thor is pointing directly at the water pipe that passedwithin 7 inches of the Olympic pipe. I was trying for a photo of himpointing at the Olympic fuel pipe but I got the parallax wrong. TheOlympic pipe is actually directly below his elbow.

The large white pipe is a concrete water main. As can be seen, theOlympic pipe came through below all these pipes.




 #4 - Same area.






 #5 - Looking east over the trench to the city watertreatment building. The windows were all blown out and have beenreplaced.






 #6 - Hannah Creek near the water treatment plant.








 #7 - Along the road near Hannah creek.






#8 - Looking back from #7 spot towards treatment pland. HannahCreek flows from the right of this photo, under the road and off tothe left downhill to Whatcom Creek. We are looking East hee.






#9 - Looking slightly to the right, and up stream in Hannah Creek.They have dammed it and are pumping the water around several hundredfeet of creek so they can get into the bed of the creek and dig outthe gasoline soaked soils. Notice the blackened tree trunk. Theexplosion reached up to here. The explosions actually started 2 or 3hundred yards (or more) downsteam from here and spread up stream toabout here.





#10 - Looking back again. The open trench is over by the blacksquare on the concrete wall. fires continued to burn all over thisarea for four days. Virtually everything you see here is cleanreplacement gravel, brought in after the old soil has been dug up andtrucked off to Tacoma for cleaning, that is, burning.





#11 - In the same area. I'll get this right later.






# 12 - Hannah Creek. You can see blackened tree trunks. We don'tknow if the trees are alive or dead. Time will tell. This looks northfrom the road in the previous photo.








#13 - A tree that was completely removed. Its root ball will becut off from the rest of the trunk and placed into a creek.






#14 - The capped end of the pipeline to the north. This pipe leadsto Cherry Point and the two refineries there. Here is where they cutit off to get rid of the damaged pipe near the water treatment plant.This is, I estimate, 70 yards from the leak.

This appears to be ready for pressure testing. Perhaps it isundergoing testing as I took this photo. Olympic is bing coy aboutwhether pressure testing is happening now.




#15 - Two pieces of pipe - probably water pipes - are removed fromthe area of the water treatment plant.






# 16 - A "skimmer" at work in Whatcom Creek next to the watertreatment plant. Gasoline is still leaking through the soil and intoWhatcom Creek when this photo was taken on July 20. The orange boomkeeps the gasoline from going downstream. The gasoline is pumped fromthe skimmer to a storage tank up near where I am standing.





# 17 - A plastic pipe - about 18 inchs in diameter - being usedfor Bellingham water. Several of these are seen snaking around thearea. One feeds the Alabama hill district. Another leads southtowards Lakeway Drive.






# 18 - A pile of old pipe. This is all about 16 or 18 inch indiameter pipe - most of it metal. Where it was used I don't know.Water or petroleum.






To page 2, the second 18photos, # 19 to 36.

To page 3, the last 18photos, # 37 to 54.

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