By Lauren Girgis, The Seattle Times
MOUNT VERNON — A pipeline leaked Sunday south of Mount Vernon, spilling gasoline into a nearby ditch and creek and closing an elementary school.
The Olympic Pipeline leaked on the north side of Highway 534 in Skagit County, and the highway is closed from the Interstate 5 offramp to Bulson Road, according to the Washington State Department of Ecology. A vault connected to the pipeline spilled gas into Hill Ditch and Bulson Creek, and responders are recovering gas from the water.
Gasoline spilled out of a vault along the pipeline, so there is no rupture out of the pipeline itself, said Department of Ecology spokesperson Ty Keltner.
Crews have placed containment booms in Fisher Creek and other waterways connected to Hill Ditch to prevent the gas from spreading, Keltner said.
Conway School, a nearby K-8 school in Mount Vernon, will be closed Monday due to the spill. The Skagit County Emergency Operations Center has set up a temporary command center at the elementary school, according to a letter to parents from the Conway School District.
Air monitoring has been performed at nearby homes and gasoline vapor concentrations are within safe limits, according to the Department of Ecology. An inspector from the Northwest Clean Air Agency is on site.
The pipeline, owned by BP, runs along a 299-mile corridor from Blaine to Portland delivering fuel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Harbor Island. The pipeline exploded in 1999 in Bellingham, killing three people.
BP did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Keltner said the Department of Ecology does not yet have an estimate on how long cleanup will take.