Underground jet fuel pipeline proposed in Tampa

10/04/07 Seán Kinane
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The Tampa City Council today discussed a proposed pipeline for jet fuel that would travel underground from the Port of Tampa at Hooker’s Point to the Tampa International Airport.

The city’s responsibility in the deal would be to acquire right of way for the pipeline and to negotiate the franchise agreement with Kinder Morgan, the company proposing the pipeline.

The agreement would need to be approved by the City Council. But city residents have raised many questions about the safety of the pipeline and previous safety violations by Kinder Morgan, according to City Council member Thomas Scott.

Last month KMGP Services Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan G.P. Inc., pleaded no-contest to six felony counts of violating worker safety regulations that caused the deaths of five workers and major injuries to four workers in a 2004 explosion in the San Francisco area.

The company paid $15-million in damages in addition to $69-million in payments made to the families of those who were killed, injured or whose apartments were burned in the explosion.

Jacque Williams is with Kinder Morgan and responded to questions about the felony violation.

City Council member Charlie Miranda said that fuel pipelines may be dangerous, but not as dangerous as transporting fuel by trucks.

Even though pipelines are a safer way to transport jet fuel than trucks, the city may not benefit from an additional pipeline, according to City Council member Mary Mulhern.

Mulhern said the city would only be able to collect about $22,000-$24,000 in fees annually from the pipeline and that may not be enough of a benefit compared with the risk.

Council member John Dingfelder said the city’s existing pipeline has sufficient capacity for the airport’s jet fuel needs.

Council member Linda Saul-Sena said she is concerned that the proposed pipeline route would traverse some of Tampa’s most historic neighborhoods, even though Kinder Morgan might use the less-invasive technique of horizontal directional drilling 20-30 feet below the surface.

“…I think the overarching question is: is this a public necessity and that’s what we need to really hash through.”

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