Hundreds angered over no fix to aging Navy fuel pipeline

No repairs yet despite corrosion, metal loss

SAN DIEGO - More than 350 residents are petitioning the Navy and city leaders to repair, replace or remove a fuel pipeline that is nearly sixty years old.

They said they fear the Miramar pipeline could burst if it is not repaired, and they say the government has promised to fix it for years, but nothing has been done.

The Navy said the pipeline is safe for use.

The 17-mile long Miramar pipeline carries fuel between MCAS Miramar and the Naval Base Point Loma.  The pipeline is 59 years old and has not had an ultra sonic inspection since 2008.

That inspection revealed "55 cases of corrosion" and "575 incidences of metal loss" throughout the pipe.

In 2011, Team 10 began investigating how the Miramar pipeline was maintained and operated when erosion caused a section of the pipe to be unearthed along the Point Loma bay front in La Playa.  The Navy covered the exposed section with tarps until it could be reburied.

"It was eroding in several locations," City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said in early 2012.

Faulconer, who's district includes Point Loma, spoke strongly about the need to repair the Miramar pipeline.

He said his feelings have not changed since then.

"We need to move on this," he said in a recent interview. "We can't afford any delays."

Faulconer joined a choir of concerned citizens led by Point Loma resident Jim Gilhooly.

Gilhooly spent 45 years engineering fuel pipelines all over the world.

"That pipeline is not safe," Gilhooly said.

He questioned why no action has been taken to repair the pipeline.

"Actions speak louder than words," he said.

Gilhooly said he has never seen an active fuel line safely used without major repair for longer than 30 years.  The Miramar pipeline turns 60 next year.

The Commanding Officer of Naval Base Point Loma told Team 10 the pipeline will undergo a detailed ultra sonic inspection by August 2013. 

Captain Scott Adams said the inspection report would be publicly available.  He also confirmed the Navy has developed a plan to replace, relocate or remove sections of the pipeline.  However, he said that process would not begin until 2015 at the earliest.

"I don't think anything is holding it up," Adams said.  "There's a process."

The Navy estimates it will cost $27 million to execute a plan to repair, remove, and replace sections of the Miramar Pipeline.

"The process has not been as fast as I want or the community wants," Councilman Faulconer said.

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