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Encroachments on high-pressure jet fuel pipeline along Iron Horse Trail create major safety concern

Posted on Friday, January 11th, 2013

This past Tuesday, Representatives from the Contra Costa County Public Works Department and Kinder Morgan held a meeting to discuss potential safety issues stemming from a jet fuel pipeline along Iron Horse Trail.

Contra Costa’s manager for the Iron Horse Corridor, Carrie Ricci, says, “The county’s main concern is working with property owners that are in the Kinder Morgan pipeline easement.” Right now there are a number of encroachments, and according to Ricci, “It’s a safety concern for the county.”

In 2004 the same pipeline exploded in Walnut Creek, killing five workers and injuring four others in one of the most tragic industrial accidents in California history. The accident occurred when a backhoe punctured the fuel pipeline, causing an explosion and resulting in a fire that burned for almost a week. As a result, approximately 20 lawsuits were filed in Contra Costa County, and ultimately over $90 Million dollars were paid by a number of defendants.

Following the 2004 tragedy, GJEL represented the family of the construction foreman. The family received the largest single wrongful death award in the history of Contra Costa County, a verdict of $10.65 Million.

Now, in an effort to alert property owners along the Iron Horse Trail of the possible dangers, warning signs and yellow flags have been placed along the corridor to mark the pipelines location. However, county and Kinder Morgan officials have found numerous fences, retaining walls, bridges, landscaping projects, and other structures encroaching into the Iron Horse Corridor. Some fence posts have been found within inches of the fuel pipeline.

Ricci says, “Property owners that are encroaching in the Kinder Morgan easement will be required to remove the encroachment.” And Kinder Morgan issued a statement saying the company is committed to public safety, protection of the environment and the safe operation of all its assets.


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