Environmental groups call for Cook Inlet pipeline shutdown

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Washington, D.C. (KXDF)- Environmental groups are calling for Hilcorp to shut down an eight–inch pipeline leaking natural gas into the Cook Inlet.

For the first time, Alaska's senators are speaking to our Washington, DC correspondent Alex Miller about how they think Hilcorp should handle the leak.

Washington is nearly 4,500 miles from the Cook Inlet. But Alaska's senators say they're monitoring the recent pipeline leak.

“You've got a situation in state waters; you've got a fuel line not a production line,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, says the pipeline has actually been leaking natural gas since December, though it was only discovered on February 7th.

The company says it is now taking steps to correct the problem. In a statement, Hilcorp says its "Response team is ready, and the necessary equipment has been staged to commence repair operations as soon as conditions permit."

“Hilcorp rightly so wants to do everything they can to address this in as expeditious a manner as they possibly can,” said Murkowski.

According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Hilcorp is making progress.

ADEC says, at first, gas was leaking at more than 300,000 cubic feet per day. Now, it's around 200,000.

“We think it's the best they can do based on the scenario at hand,” said Kristen Ryan of ADEC.

ADEC wants Hilcorp to test the water for potential harm to the environment as well.

“We're going to start seeing data next week. I'm guessing we'll see early april if we believe the environment is being caused harm,” said Ryan.

And that data could shut down the pipeline competely.

Some environmental advocacy groups are already calling for this, and the Environmental Protection Agency to get engaged. But Senator Dan Sullivan says progress is happening without their involvement.

“We don't want to exacerbate the challenges right now,” explained Sullivan.

Sullivan — a former alaska attorney general — did not want to comment whether the company should face charges for the leak.

“There's regulations and laws, that's not a call that I'm gonna make, that will be up to the state and federal regulators to make,” he said.

Hilcorp contributed $6,000 to Murkowski's 2016 re–eelction campaign and has already given $14,000 towards Sullivan's 2020 run.