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SOUTH GATE : New Pipeline Route Delays Council Vote

July 18, 1993|MARY HELEN BERG

The City Council last week voted to delay its opposition to the Pacific Pipeline after project officials said that they could alter its route so it would not interfere with the Alameda Rail Corridor.

The city had prepared a resolution opposing the project, a 171-mile crude oil pipeline linking Santa Barbara oil fields to refineries in Wilmington and El Segundo, on the grounds that it could pose environmental and safety hazards and interfere with the freight rail corridor, which is expected to be an economic boon.

Construction of the Alameda Corridor, a 20-mile freight line that would link the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles with Downtown, is expected to create 9,000 jobs.

The pipeline's original route would have traveled along the city's western border. The new plan calls for shifting the pipeline about 20 feet to run along the center of East Alameda Street. The $215-million project is expected to create about 400 union-scale jobs in Los Angeles County.

Council members voted 5 to 0 to investigate the effect of the pipeline's new route before considering the resolution.

Some area officials said they will continue to oppose the pipeline even if it does not interfere with the Alameda Corridor. Mayor Richard V. Loya of Huntington Park told the South Gate council that because of the potential environmental and safety risks, his city will oppose the pipeline project "even if it is out of the (rail corridor) trench."

"With the number of schools along the line, we feel it is not the way to go," Loya said.

Pacific Pipeline Systems Inc. officials said the project includes state-of-the-art technology to guard against spills, making it much safer than outdated pipeline networks built in the 1950s. The pipeline will be "environmentally sound and can be built and operated with complete safety," said Tom Rooney, project engineer for Pacific Pipeline.

Dolores Sanchez, a spokeswoman for Assemblywoman Martha M. Escutia (D-Huntington Park), warned that despite modern technology, "no one can 100% say that this community would not be in potential danger."

The pipeline has been formally opposed by the Los Angeles and Huntington Park city councils and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The California Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide by the end of August whether the project is environmentally sound and hear more testimony before making a final decision, said Martha Sullivan, project manager for the commission.

"The commission must balance statewide objectives with local concerns to minimize adverse impacts to anybody," Sullivan said. If the commission approves the project, it would still require permission from each city involved to use local land. If the project follows its current schedule, construction should begin by next spring.

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