El Toro airport opponents on Friday accused Orange County officials of painting a rosy picture of prospects for using existing pipelines to carry jet fuel to the former Marine base, though serious doubts were raised in a report last month.
"The fuel line has been a big issue all along," said Meg Waters, spokeswoman for a coalition of eight South County cities opposed to building an international airport at El Toro.
"The county's first report says the county may not be able to use the fuel lines. Then in their next report, released in December, they glossed over it. You're talking about nearly 30 miles of pipeline to El Toro from Norwalk that may need to be bought and rebuilt, and absolutely nothing about how to do that or even how to deal with right-of-way issues."
Last month, the county's draft environmental impact report advised against using trucks to transport jet fuel but said the county could obtain fuel by existing pipelines.
In its report, the county wrote: "The EIR analysis assumed that all fuel would be brought to Orange County International (OCX) by truck in order to ensure that all possible traffic impacts were identified. However, the Airport System Master Plan and the EIR recommend that the county obtain aviation fuel by two conveniently located, existing fuel pipelines."
In a previous report, obtained by the coalition, the county looked at various fuel delivery options, including train and truck. Pipeline obstacles included getting the Navy to clean the existing lines and obtaining environmental and congressional clearances.
"None of the problems were included in the draft EIR," Waters said. "They were deleted."
County officials could not be reached Friday for comment.
The coalition contends the county fears residents would be alarmed by the possibility that fuel-tank trucks on the way to the airport would clog traffic on the San Diego Freeway.
Meeting the airport's fuel demands by the year 2020 would require 244 trucks a day, each carrying 8,000 gallons, according to county reports.