Navy’s necessary pipeline relocation fuels safety fears
Published - 05/08/14 - 11:49 AM | 4369 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Navy says relocating a section of its 17.3-mile fuel pipeline between Naval Base Point Loma and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar from the coast to Rosecrans Street is an operational imperative, although some residents have expressed fear during public meetings that the relocation project could pose a serious public-safety threat.

The original pipeline, built in 1954 with a 30-year designed life, provides fuel for Navy ships and aircraft. In 2012, about 100 million gallons of fuel were transferred through the pipeline, portions of which are now significantly eroded.

“We’re proposing the three Rs: repair, replace or relocate,” said Capt. Scott F. Adams, commanding officer of Naval Base Point Loma, who said the current proposal is to run the fuel pipeline up an easement from the naval base to Lytton Street, then up Rosecrans Street.

The Navy revealed at a public scoping meeting earlier this year that about 4.5 miles of the Miramar pipeline are in need of repair or relocation to address pipeline deficiencies and that there are needs to increase seismic safety and support the Navy’s present and future fueling missions.

To address erosion issues along the La Playa waterfront from McCall Street to Talbot Street, the Navy proposes to have the pipeline relocated within the Rosecrans Street right-of-way. Adams said the next step in the environmental-review process for the pipeline project is an assessment of its draft environmental assessment.

“That will occur sometime at the end of September or the beginning of October at the [United S.E.S.] Portuguese Hall,” he said, adding that if pipeline realignment is approved, the project would be put out to bid and awarded during fiscal year 2015.

“You’re looking at a two-year timeline, finishing sometime during 2016-17,” Adams said. “I believe it will take about six months on Rosecrans.”

The Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) recently drafted a letter on behalf of the citizens advisory group that makes land-use recommendations to the city, outlining Point Loma’s concerns about proposed pipeline repair and realignment.

Noting Rosecrans is “the major arterial that runs through the Point Loma community,” PCPB members said the environmental assessmwent needs to address:

• The construction timeline, hours and days and how access along Rosecrans Street will be maintained to existing residences and businesses during construction.

• Traffic-control plans to avoid delays along Rosecrans during construction.

• Public access to the La Playa waterfront and whether that pipeline section will be removed or left in place and what measures will be implemented to minimize public health and safety risks.

• Identify pipeline defect areas.

Point Loma watchdog Jim Gilhooly has been lobbying the PCPG, the Navy and the city for years, warning against the Navy’s “piecemealing” of the pipeline, construction on which he claims is “going to cause gridlock at Cañon and Rosecrans [streets], and at Nimitz [Boulevard] and Rosecrans all the way along Midway, right to Interstate 5.”

Gilhooly maintains that what the Navy ought to do is replace that whole pipeline “in one shot,” so as not to interfere with other concurrent infrastructure projects going on in the area.

Adams said planned pipeline improvements will ultimately “ensure its ability to continue to perform its function safely and will reduce long-term maintenance costs.

“We’re confident that, working with the public and the rest of the stakeholders, that we’ll find a way to complete this project while minimizing the construction’s impact on the residents around the community,” he said.
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