I remember the day the pipeline blew in Bellingham.
Waiting in line to buy diesel at the local truck stop in Phoenix, Oregon, a couple of truckers told me a pipeline had blown in Bellingham, Washington and the price of diesel would be going up. I had a lot of hay to cut and the price of diesel was a big deal, but the words " A pipeline blew up " really got my attention.
On my farm, an interstate gas pipeline had been built in 1995 and we had fought the pipeline operator for the land and really questioned the safety of having a pipeline next to our home and under the land we farmed. My family had worked long and hard with our neighbors to stop the pipeline from being built on the local farms, we lost.
Starting in 1993, when we learned the pipeline would be built on the farm, I started calling places around the country asking about pipeline explosions. When I spotted a pipeline explosion in the paper, I would call the city hall or chamber of commerce and find someone local who knew the story and what had happened.
I remember calling Bellingham and looking for someone who knew the area and what had happened. I got a name and number from a real estate agent and dialed it.
Carl Weimer, answered the phone and started answering questions. He knew a lot about what had happened, but why it happened, was the big question. Carl and I kept in touch in the days following the pipeline failure. As the story came out about the facts, it was hard to believe. At that time I had already listened to many people around the country describe pipeline accidents, but this was a stunning event. I remember after talking to Carl one day shortly after the failure, thinking, this town is not going to take this pipeline explosion and just forget, this place was different.
Here on the farm, the pipeline accident in Bellingham was starting to sink in. That summer of 1999 was a time before the truth came pouring out about pipeline safety. We didn't know if this was a freak accident or would be a common event in the future.
My wife, Terri, and I turned our attention to our nine year old son Mac. This kid was all over the farm, looking for frogs, playing with the dogs, helping with the sheep and playing on top of the pipeline.
Mac spent a lot of time playing along the stream on the farm, the gas pipeline on the farm crosses the stream in a wild brushy place, just right for boys to play. It wasn't long before Mac was called back from that place, no more playing there. It wasn't reasonable and didn't make sense, but the pipeline explosion in Bellingham was not something you could forget about. Moms worry about little boys falling and hurting themselves, skinned knees, scrapes and bruises, when they play along a stream, not about pipelines exploding. We couldn't forget the boys and families in Bellingham.
Mac will be nineteen this June 8th, he is a YMCA coach and still helps with the farm along the pipeline.
Glenn R Archambault