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Pipeline problems continue

SOUTH POINT – Marathon Ashland Petroleum is stacking miles of pipe on the former South Point Ethanol Plant property in preparation for connecting the company’s petroleum-product pipeline through the village.

Saturday, November 06, 1999

SOUTH POINT – Marathon Ashland Petroleum is stacking miles of pipe on the former South Point Ethanol Plant property in preparation for connecting the company’s petroleum-product pipeline through the village.

But, such actions are premature, village officials said.

"We are not going to allow them to take our wells," newly re-elected Mayor Bill Gaskin said.

Although village council passed a measure in support of the pipeline project as it was presented in May, the village never received or signed any written documents, village administrator Pat Leighty said. And now it would seem the route has changed.

"They had surveyors come out and mark off the path," Leighty said. "That path is 40 or 50 yards away from where they originally agreed the pipeline would be."

The deviation in the pipeline’s agreed-upon path means the village will lose three different water wells. And even if the petroleum company is willing to replace these wells, village officials said they are dissatisfied that the original plans were changed.

"When we hadn’t heard anything from them, we set a mid-summer deadline, and we still did not hear from (the company)," Leighty said. "If they would have kept to the original agreement, everything would have been fine."

Village officials are not unwilling to work out an agreement with the company, Gaskin said. They are just looking for the best, least-disturbing way to run the line through South Point.

"We’re not trying to be uncooperative, but we have to do what’s in the best interests of the village and the people who live here," he said. "That is our job."

In May, company representatives offered to provide funding to repair any damage done to the village park, as well as the potentially lucrative possibility of annexing the more than 600 acres of property that formerly housed the ethanol plant and is now located within the Empowerment Zone federal grant.

Regardless of these deal-sweeteners, changing the pipeline route without so much as consulting the village is unacceptable, village officials said.

"The bottom line is that they are not going to put anything in the middle of our well field," Leighty said. "None of the things they originally talked about have come about."

Upon completion, the 130-mile petroleum products pipeline and associated pump station will connect the Catlettsburg, Ky., refinery with petroleum products terminals in Columbus.

The pipeline will originate in Kenova, cross the Ohio River, enter Lawrence County in South Point and then travel to Columbus through Gallia, Jackson, Vinton, Hocking, Fairfield, Pickaway and Franklin counties.

The proposed 14-inch pipeline is designed to transport about 80,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene per day.