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Lawmakers want depot shut down

Four state legislators from Kootenai County issued a joint statement this morning calling for the entire Burlington-Northern refueling depot to be voluntarily shut down until all problems are corrected. The statement was in response to a leak in one of the depot’s three main fueling lines that was revealed last night – a leak that had gotten through two containment areas designed to protect the region’s drinking water aquifer, which lies below the depot.

“The aquifer is too precious an asset to risk damage,” said the statement from Reps. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; and Sens. Dick Compton and John Goedde, both Coeur d’Alene Republicans.

Nonini said the lawmakers want to back up what they consider “a reasonable request” from Kootenai County commissioners to Burlington-Northern to shut down the whole operation until the problem is addressed. He said he talked both with Kootenai County Commissioner Gus Johnson and a Burlington-Northern representative this morning, and also planned to contact the state DEQ. “We support the commissioners,” Nonini said. “We just feel … that the whole facility should be shut down, rather than risk further damage.”

Henderson said officials were assured that the depot was a state-of-the-art facility that wouldn’t leak. “Obviously, something failed,” he said. “We just need to know what and how much. … The issue today is contain it and get it corrected.”

Nonini said he credits Burlington-Northern’s early-detection system with finding the leak, and expressed hope that it was caught before the aquifer was damaged.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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