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Community Digest

South Gate : Absolved of Liability, City Will Not Oppose Pipeline

September 02, 1993

After being assured that the city will not be liable if an oil spill or pipeline rupture occurs, the City Council has decided not to oppose the Pacific Pipeline, a 171-mile crude oil conduit that will link Santa Barbara County with Los Angeles refineries.

More than 150 residents, school officials and labor representatives packed the council chambers last week to hear testimony about the pipeline. Labor union members in need of the jobs that pipeline construction will bring faced off against students, parents, teachers and other residents who fear the project is a health and safety hazard.

The route of the project, which is expected to create 400 union jobs in Los Angeles County, is near at least seven schools. In July, the city had prepared a resolution opposing the pipeline because of environmental concerns and potential interference with the Alameda Rail Corridor, a 20-mile freight line project that is expected to create 9,000 jobs. But the pipeline route was shifted, and the council ended up abandoning its original resolution and taking no formal position on the project.

Assemblywoman Martha M. Escutia (D-Huntington Park) had tried to rally community opposition to the project and flew in from Sacramento to urge the council to vote against it. "Our community has already incurred its fair share of hazardous industry," Escutia said "Perhaps it's time to look at another route."

Tom Rooney, project engineer with Pacific Pipeline Systems Inc., told the council that crude-oil pipelines had "a very, very good safety record" and said the city would not be liable for cleanup costs in the event of a spill.

If the pipeline is approved by the California Public Utilities Commission later this year, all cities involved will need to vote on whether to allow the project to pass through local land.

The pipeline has been opposed by the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park and Bell, and by board members of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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