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Tampa is wary of pipeline for jet fuel
The proposed line would wind through neighborhoods from the port to the airport.
By JANET ZINK, Times Staff Writer
Published October 5, 2007
"I don't see that we have that great a benefit. I'm not convinced we need to put in a new pipeline," said Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern.
TAMPA - The City Council on Thursday expressed concern about the safety of a proposed jet fuel pipeline that will wind through Tampa neighborhoods from the Port of Tampa to Tampa International Airport.
Kinder-Morgan, one of the country's largest fuel pipeline and storage companies, says the 9-mile, $20-million pipeline will provide airlines an alternative to the only other fuel pipeline in the city and possibly lower fuel prices.
The company also would have to pay the city a small annual fee to use the city right of way for the line.
But council members wondered if those were reasons enough to expose Tampa residents to safety risks, no matter how minimal.
"I don't see that we have that great a benefit," said council member Mary Mulhern. "I'm not convinced we need to put in a new pipeline."
Another company, Tampa Pipeline Corp., owns the only jet fuel pipeline supplying Tampa International. It runs from fuel tanks just north of MacDill Air Force Base.
Pipelines are generally considered a safer way to transport fuel than via truck.
But Kinder Morgan has had its share of safety and environmental issues.
Its pipelines have ruptured in Virginia and Arizona, and the company last month was convicted of multiple felonies and forced to pay $15-million after a 2004 pipeline explosion in California that killed five workers.
The company also agreed in May to pay $5.3-million to resolve federal and state environmental violations in California.
Last year, Kinder Morgan reached an agreement with federal regulators that required the company to make up to $90-milion in safety improvements in six Western states.
Jacque Williams, director of major projects for Kinder Morgan, said the company is investing a great deal of money into making sure its pipelines are safe.
But West Tampa resident Joseph Robinson said the company should try to find a route that bypasses his neighborhood.
"This is not a safe pipeline to run through a national historic district," Robinson said.
Tony LaColla, president of the Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association, said in an e-mail to council members that his organization "will not allow" the pipeline to travel as proposed along 15th Street in Ybor City. The street recently was closed during construction of city drainage improvements, which strained Ybor businesses.
The council won't vote on the matter until city attorneys and Kinder Morgan reach an agreement on how much the company will pay to use the city right of way.
Council member John Dingfelder said he wants to carefully weigh concerns of the neighborhoods with the project's public benefit, but there's time to do that.
"We're just starting on this," Dingfelder said. "I'm not going to prejudge it."