Safety worries about valley pipeline eased

The adage that time heals all wounds doesn’t apply to gas pipelines.

So says Hal Bloch, who admits he’s not a pipeline expert but nonetheless is a mechanical engineer and president of the Summerlin North Homeowners Association.

The association was concerned in 2009 when Kern River Gas Transmission Co. was preparing to boost the pressure inside its 36-inch-diameter steel pipeline that crosses residential areas of the Las Vegas Valley to deliver natural gas from Wyoming to California.

" ’The older, the weaker’ is the adage when it comes to pipelines," Bloch said . "Adequate, supervised maintenance can mitigate that, but it’s never going to get stronger."

Concerns of local residents whether the pipeline, which runs for 27 miles beneath Las Vegas neighborhoods, was safe resurfaced after recent gas pipeline explosions in California and Pennsylvania.

The Review-Journal looked at inspection reports, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and at a lawsuit filed when Kern River sought to increase pressure in the line.

Bottom line: The local line is newer, stronger, better designed than the ill-fated ones — and it was inspected two years ago.

The 1,680-mile underground pipeline is a relatively young one as pipelines go. At 20 years old, it’s made of carbon-steel, about a half-inch thick and coated with an epoxy substance to keep it from rusting in the caustic Mojave Desert soil.

The fact that pipelines don’t get stronger with age has been proved over decades and as recently as September when a 54-year-old, 30-inch-diameter gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, Calif., killing eight and destroying 38 homes. Because of bends and changes in diameter of the Pacific Gas & Electric pipeline, interior inspections using an in-line robotic tool known as a "pig," couldn’t be conducted adequately.

California regulators held a public meeting on the catastrophe Thursday and decided to consider whether PG&E should face penalties for inadequate safety records prior to the pipeline explosion.

On Feb. 9, another gas pipeline exploded in Allentown, Pa., killing five and damaging more than 50 homes and businesses. The 12-inch, cast-iron main had no history of leaks in 83 years.

Kern River’s interstate pipeline is much younger, is made of high-toughness steel and is better designed. It also will be routinely inspected every four years with high-tech equipment and so-called smart pigs, according to company officials.

"The pipe in the Las Vegas area was designed to hold a pressure of 2400" pounds per square inch, Kern River pipeline safety manager Von McAllister wrote in a response to questions from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That section of the pipeline was last inspected with smart pig tools on Oct. 25, 2009, he said.

McAllister added that the pipeline meets or exceeds local, state and federal safety laws and the company "employs a stringent corrosion control program."

"The greatest threat to the integrity of Kern River’s facilities is the damage that can be caused by a third party … striking our pipeline with a backhoe or other large piece of machinery."

The stretch of the pipeline that crosses the Las Vegas Valley was installed in 1991, about the time Summerlin’s villages were being built.

From Wyoming, where natural gas is tapped from the Rocky Mountains, the pipeline traverses Utah where it receives additional gas and enters Nevada near Mesquite, then parallels Interstate 15 to North Las Vegas.

From there it follows Centennial Parkway to Anasazi Drive, crosses Summerlin Parkway to Hualapai Way, across West Charleston Boulevard, then continues along Hualapai Way through the desert to Goodsprings and on to California where it connects with the Mojave Pipeline in San Bernardino County.

Though it doesn’t run directly beneath homes in the Las Vegas Valley, attorneys for Summerlin’s builder, The Howard Hughes Corp., argued in a 2009 lawsuit that Kern River Gas Transmission Co.’s request to regulators to increase the pipeline’s pressure "has become increasingly important as Summerlin becomes more densely populated."

Buried from 7 feet to more than 17 feet beneath Hualapai Way, the pipeline weaves through residential areas, following an easement primarily along streets.

"Summerlin’s many neighborhoods, parks, schools, golf courses, hospitals and businesses are now in close proximity to the pipeline," according to the lawsuit that sought to stop Kern River from increasing the pipeline’s pressure from 1,200 pounds per square inch to 1,333 pounds per square inch.

A federal judge in Las Vegas denied a permanent injunction and the case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco where a motion by the parties to dismiss it was granted in December.

"While we cannot comment on the court case that is under seal, we can say that our company filed comments with the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is charged with authorizing the safety aspects of Kern River’s request for increased pressure. We filed the comments to help ensure that the most stringent safety measures and guidelines were scrupulously applied, and we also requested that federal authorities require Kern River to make the underlying information available to the public so that others could comment," said Tom Warden, a senior vice president for The Howard Hughes Corp.

While the litigation was proceeding, Kern River officials took steps to quell the concerns of federal safety officials who were reviewing the company’s request to boost the pressure.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the company resolved safety issues for assessing corrosion and inspecting coatings and the electrochemical system used to protect the underground pipe from rusting. At least 14 other compliance inadequacies were fixed and some potential pipeline deficiencies were evaluated or repaired.

Chris Hoidal, Western Region director of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, had written a letter to the company’s president, Michael Dunn, on Dec. 8, 2009, saying the administration "has specific concerns, and has determined that Kern River has not achieved compliance" with respect to several conditions.

"Kern River may not increase the pressure in its pipeline system beyond the existing (maximum allowed) until all of these Special Permit Conditions have been fully completed and implemented to (the administration’s) satisfaction."

One attachment to the letter about an inspection of the pipeline’s outer surface, noted "a severe anomaly" using one inspection tool while a different method found it to be "a moderate anomaly."

In either case, inspectors examining the location found that a 7-square-inch section of coating "was found to be missing where a railroad spike was in direct contact with the pipe."

Other "holidays" or places were coatings were missing were described in the documents.

But the shortcomings were addressed and the mainline transmission system was increased to 1,333 pounds per square inch on April 9, 2010, as authorized by the pipeline safety administration.

After reviewing inspection reports and the FOIA documents, Bloch said though he’s still concerned about pipelines getting weaker with age, he feels more comfortable about Kern River’s monitoring of the pipeline segment in Las Vegas.

"Where pipelines cross the path of the Kern River pipeline there can be corrosion problems and they’ve addressed that," he said.

He said he wonders why Kern River officials who attended a homeowners association board meeting in April 2009 didn’t mention that they intended to inspect the pipeline in the following months.

"Why Kern River representatives never mentioned the 2009 run in our board meeting with them still sticks in my craw as it simply makes no sense for them to not get legitimate ‘bonus points’ from us on safety. But this omission is hardly something to go to war over."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New MLK freeway onramps
How to navigate the trio of new freeway onramps from Martin Luther King Boulevard. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Extreme weather closes Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon
High winds and flooding closed the Scenic Loop in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area Thursday. Minor flooding across Highway 159 caused drivers to slow, but didn't close the road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tourists enjoy rain in downtown Las Vegas
Tourists break out the umbrellas. But Brian Herting of Lincoln, Nebraska, dons shorts and a T-shirt, as he makes his way through downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday. The National Weather Service.forecast called for a 50 percent chance of rain. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Time lapse video of fog covering the Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is shrouded in fog Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Tony Spilotro's Las Vegas home for sale — VIDEO
The former Las Vegas home of Chicago mob enforcer, Tony Spilotro, is now for sale. Spilotro, who was portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Casino, is the original owner of the home at 4675 Balfour Drive, built in 1974. (Samia DeCubas/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffalo Drive And Mountains Edge Parkway Fatal
Las Vegas police and the Nevada Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal crash in the southwest valley on Saturday afternoon. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Joel Ntambwe on his play
UNLV forward Joel Ntambwe talks about his play at this point in the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Sam Schmidt chats about hectic off-season
IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt and lead driver James Hinchcliffe chat about the hectic off-season at the SpeedVegas high-performance driving facility outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
R-J's Mark Anderson on UNLV's victory
Review-Journal sports reporter Mark Anderson recaps UNLV's victory at New Mexico. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
UNLV's Noah Robotham on the win at New Mexico
UNLV guard Noah Robotham talks about winning at New Mexico on Jan. 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Kris Clyburn on big 3 vs. New Mexico
UNLV guard Kris Clyburn talks about his key 3-pointer against New Mexico. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marvin Menzies on beating New Mexico
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about UNLV's win at New Mexico on January 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New HOV Ramp Scheduled to Open in March
New HOV ramp scheduled to open in March of 2019.
American Preparatory Academy part of charter school growth in Las Vegas
American Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas has a waiting list of students who want to attend. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Wheelchair tournament at UNLV
Cesar Robledo talks about wheelchair basketball and what it means for players to compete during the Wheelchair Basketball Division I-II Tournament at UNLV in Las Vegas, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Marvin Menzies on UNLV's trip to Hawaii
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about the upcoming trip to Hawaii. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Pinecrest Academy Horizon principal wins Milken Educator Award
Tony Sanchez on UNLV's recruiting class
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez talks about his early signing class. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Siegel Cares delivers bagels to families in need
Since Thanksgiving, Mark Lenoir of Siegel Cares, has been delivering leftover Bagelmania bagels to families staying at the Siegel Suites.
Dan Barnson steps down
Arbor View football coach Dan Barnson stepped down Friday after 12 seasons at the helm. Under Barnson, the Aggies won 104 games and became one of the top programs in Las Vegas. The Aggies went 12-2 in 2018 and won a region championship for the first time in program history. Barnson loves Friday nights, but said the 12-month commitment was getting exhausting.
NFR 2018 Highlights
NFR 2018 highlights from every round of this years rodeo.
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas, Nevada. (CBS Sports Network/PRCA)
NFR- Joe Frost
NFR Bull Rider Joe Frost talks about the difference in bulls and his family legacy with Cassie Soto before the last round of the National Finals Rodeo.
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like