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Homeland Security

The Testimony of
The Honorable Raul Grijalva
U.S. Representative, Arizona

Thank you for holding a hearing on the Kinder Morgan gasoline pipeline rupture that occurred in Tucson on July 30. Thank you for allowing me to speak at the hearing and I submit this written statement on the record.

I request that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hold a hearing in Tucson, where the pipeline rupture occurred, as soon as possible. While Phoenix residents were inconvenienced by long lines at gas stations, my constituents have been subjected to serious environmental, health and safety dangers as a result of the pipeline rupture, and now must endure reconstruction and/or realignment.

I am extremely concerned with the lack of diligent oversight by federal agencies who are tasked with monitoring safety and security of gasoline pipelines and other energy infrastructure in this country. I admonish all responsible agencies with jurisdiction in this matter who should have been examining the line to ensure the safety of the citizens of the area, along with the security of the gasoline supply.

Neither the public nor elected officials knew the extent of the safety risks associated with the pipeline. Our preliminary information indicates that the pipeline may have failed safety inspections from 1995 on, however, this information was not made public, nor made available to elected officials or emergency personnel.

Thankfully, no one was injured during the rupture in July; however, many residents had their lives seriously disrupted. The consequences of this event are still rippling through our community, and will no doubt be an issue of grave concern for a long time to come.

Now that the current immediate danger has passed, plans for reconstruction or realignment of the pipeline are beginning to formulate. Recently, the Tucson City Council was presented with two options for the pipeline: allowing Kinder Morgan to repair the line in its existing locale, or instead realign the pipeline to another route. The Tucson City Council voted to allow reconstruction of the pipeline in the existing right of way with slight modifications. While under some circumstances, this option may have seemed like a logical choice, the reconstruction along the existing right of way is far from a positive solution to the problem.

The existing pipeline route passes close to parks, residences, hospitals and schools, endangering the safety of citizens. All told it runs through 60 residential subdivisions, affecting 782 individual residences, 8 parks, 4 schools, and 7 public buildings. In addition, the right of way passes through the area known as Tumamoc Hill. Tumamoc Hill is a highly valued and extremely important research area for the University of Arizona, who has conducted research on the hill for over a hundred years.

Using the existing right of way will perpetuate a dangerous situation for area residents and visitors, and will cause new disturbance on Tumamoc Hill because the old pipeline will have to be abandoned and a new trench dug to accommodate a larger pipe.

The alternative for alignment which was presented to the Tucson City Council is, unfortunately, not much of an improvement to the existing route. The realignment proposal would also put the gasoline pipeline in close proximity to schools, homes and public facilities.

Kinder Morgan and the agencies involved have indicated that only these two options are available for location of the pipeline, but I do not believe adequate effort has been expended to determine a safe and environmentally responsible location for the pipeline. The community is now faced with a no-win situation because both options will have the adverse impacts on the community and on the natural resources of the area.

Because neither of the two proposed routes is a tenable solution, the community must be given a broader range of options. Kinder Morgan and the agencies involved in this issue should look again, and look more closely this time, to determine the safest location for both human health and the environment.

I strongly urge the agencies to initiate a broad public process that would take the community's interests and concerns into account, and would closely examine the possible public health and environmental impacts of the pipeline's reconstruction, wherever this occurs. A variety of alternatives should be proposed that would address the health, safety and environmental concerns associated with this project.

Thank you for holding this hearing. I offer the support and assistance of myself and my staff who are available to work with the Senator's office in order to address this complex issue.

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