Hundreds of Point Loma Residents Angered Over Lack of Progress on 60 Year-Old Navy Fuel Pipeline

by on April 4, 2013 · 4 comments

in Energy, Environment, Military, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Petition Builds Calling On Navy and City to Fulfill Promises and Repair Pipeline

10 News is reporting that “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 are fearful that the pipeline – if not repaired – will crack and burst, spilling fuel in their neighborhoods.  And they are angry for the lack of action despite government promises to fix it – promises made for years.

Yet the Navy claims the pipeline is safe.

The fuel pipeline runs from the Point Loma Naval Base all the way out to Miramar Marine Air Station – a distance of 17 miles. The pipeline is nearly 60 years old.

Channel 10 has been following the story for several years.  It reports that the line “has not had an ultra sonic inspection since 2008.” Their report continues:

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.  … (See the Navy’s full response to this Team 10 Investigation, Thursday on 10News at 5 p.m.)

Faulconer told the press recently that his views have not changed. He said:

“We need to move on this. We can’t afford any delays.”

Point Loma resident Jim Gilhooly, who News10 reports, has been helping to lead the petition gathering, has 45 years of experience in dealing with engineering fuel pipelines all over the world. He says:

“That pipeline is not safe. Actions speak louder than words.”

He told the news station that 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.  He questioned why no action has been taken to repair the pipeline.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

dave rice April 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Yeah, that pipe’s been an issue for a few years…and with a 40 year lifespan, it’s kind of amazing it only gets PIGged every 5 years, though it should be due again soon…shudder.

I touched on this in November 2011:

My colleague Dorian Hargrove did more extensive research on it in October of that year:


John April 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I remember that Reader article and it was commendable you steered the subject toward content relevant to the locals, i.e;, the pipeline here. However, and this really doesn’t reflect on you because you were just relaying the statements given to you in an interview, the comment by DonnieK regarding the state of backup generators was troubling. Was Palast playing fast and loose with the facts by implying they only have decrepit old generators that never get started… and may not work at all? DonnieK’s scenario does seem much more plausible, or maybe I’m gullible.
Not to detract from the very plausible scenario of 60 year old pipes corroded and ready to leak, to be sure.
It might be said investigative journalism by its very nature has a potential to inflate claims as Palast may have been doing. People wouldn’t wake up and demand action otherwise.


gailpowell April 5, 2013 at 7:39 am

The Navy is doing its own self a disservice by thinking that these Point Loma types will roll over and play dead because it’s the military. The real estate on the peninsula around the aging pipes is far too valuable to let some old leaky pipes ruin it. The Navy is not being a good neighbor here. And I am not talking about all the traffic they generate that clogs surface streets twice a day on Catalina Blvd. and Rosecrans St.


John April 7, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Not to condone the Navy’s inaction but have you been following the news about the federal budget and how the Navy is under the gun to find ways to gut billions out of its budget? The officials that you’ve been in contact with may very well WANT to do something about it, but can’t. Face it, undertaking any meaningful repair is going to be astronomically expensive- just look at the city’s cost in piecemeal replacement of the water pipe system.
I encourage the idea of leaning on them but there has to be a sense of reality to face in all this, and that may be that if you lean on them too hard with an ultimatum to do something…. will that something be a BRAC action to close either or both bases down so the pipeline isn’t needed? Extremely costly in jobs, revenue lost, and their own environmental problem.
No I don’t have the magic solution to offer but just think these things through and understand the people you’re dealing with may have their hands tied.


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