Calnev Oil Products Pipeline

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This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy.

Calnev Oil Products Pipeline is a 550-mile (890 km) long buried refined oil products pipeline in the United States that is owned by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners. The pipeline consists of two parallel lines, with diameters of 14 in and 8 in.[1] The lines carry gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel fuel from Los Angeles, California refineries as far as Nellis Air Force Base south of North Las Vegas, Nevada. It carries approximately 128,000 barrels per day. Jet fuel from the pipeline is also delivered to the McCarran International Airport tank farm in Paradise. Additional terminal facilities are located in Barstow, California.

The line was the sole source for the products it delivers to Las Vegas until the Unev pipeline began operating in 2012. UNEV provides access to refined oil products from Utah.[2]


The pipeline runs from Colton, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Project Details

  • Operator: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners
  • Current capacity: 128,000 barrels per day
  • Length: 550 mi
  • Status: Operating

Accidents and incidents

On December 22, 1980, the pipeline carrying jet fuel ruptured in the Las Vegas Valley, near Tropicana Avenue, spilling fuel for 2 hours. Later, the fuel ignited, forcing road closures. One firefighter was overcome by fumes. Between 50,000 and 100,000 gallons of jet fuel were spilled. Prior construction in the area was suspected of damaging the pipeline.[3]

San Bernardino disaster

On May 25, 1989, the Calnev Pipeline ruptured in a San Bernardino, California neighborhood, due to damage from the cleanup of a train derailment that occurred thirteen days earlier. The resulting gasoline fire killed two people, and destroyed eleven homes.

The pipeline was marked with stakes during cleanup to avoid the risk of it being accidentally damaged. Service on the track where the derailment happened was restored four days after the crash. Thirteen days after the train wreck on May 25, 1989, at 8:05 a.m., shortly after eyewitnesses heard a train pass through the derailment site, the pipeline burst at a point on the curve where the derailment happened, showering the neighborhood with what appeared to be a peculiar vapor, which ignited into a large fire that burned for close to seven hours and emitted a plume of smoke three hundred feet into the air. By the time the fire was out, it had fatally burned two people alive, and destroyed eleven more houses and 21 cars. Of the houses destroyed, five were directly across the street from houses that had been destroyed in the derailment, while another was the only house on the track side of Duffy Street to have been spared damage during the derailment. Four more houses received moderate smoke and fire damage, while three others had only smoke damage.[4][5] The total property damage was $14.3 million, with more of this damage resulting from the fire than from the train derailment, although there were more fatalities from the derailment.[6]



In 2010, Kinder Morgan proposed an expansion project which would add a third, 16-inch pipeline to accompany the two existing pipelines. Several organizations as well as state government agencies provided comments on the CalNev Expansion Project, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. The project proposed building across Cajon Creek Conservation Area in San Bernardino which would affect over 20 sensitive species. Construction would also alter the area's hydrological regime and pose a risk to the animals living in this area.[7] Certain areas of the pipeline also require replacing depleted areas of cathodic protection, which protect the pipeline from rust and potential leaks.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior performed an Environmental Assessment regarding the repair of the cathodic protection system of a section of the pipeline that passes through the Preserve, including a 4.5 mi stretch federally designated as a Wilderness Area.[8] The Environmental Assessment describes a number of environmental concerns related with the project, including negative impacts to wildlife, habitat, wilderness, special status species, and other environmental impacts.[9][10]


The CalNev Pipeline passes through a number of disadvantaged or at-risk communities, raising environmental justice concerns. San Bernardino County consists of 24 total cities and over 80% of the land is government-owned property.[11] As the largest county in California, most of the land is uninhabited and total population is relatively low.[12] The racial demographic is over 50% Latino with the remaining residents identifying as White, Black or African American, and Asian or Pacific Islander.[13] The median annual income across the nation is $55,775 and in California is $64,500;[14] with an average annual income of $50,000, San Bernardino falls below both the national and California medians.[15] In the City of Barstow, a terminal stop for the CalNev Pipeline, the average ranking of schools – elementary through high school – is a 3.3 out of 10.[16] In the City of Colton, another terminal stop for the CalNev Pipeline the average ranking of schools – elementary though high school – is a 2.7 out of 10.[16] In neighboring cities such as Chino Hills the average ranking of schools is a 7.6 out of 10.[16]



All pipelines in the United States have to adhere to the regulations set forth by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA sets regulations pertaining to the operation, construction, expansion of pipelines, which private pipeline companies have to adhere to, with enforcement conducted by federal and state inspectors.[17] As an interstate pipeline, Calnev is regulated by PMHSA and inspected by federal agents. However, portions of pipeline exclusively within California or Nevada could be inspected by the applicable state agency.[17] In 2016, there were seven broad system-wide program inspections and two targeted investigations intended to scrutinize certain safety features in regards to the pipeline.[18] According to PMHSA’s Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Communications data, Calnev has had one case in the last ten years in which PHMSA issued a Corrective Action Order. In 2004, PMHSA issued the Order in regards to a failure in the Calnev Pipeline which released gasoline to the environment,[19] an order that was marked closed in 2007.[18] However, PHMSA assessed no penalty on Kinder Morgan for the violation.[20]

Expansion plans

On July 23, 2007, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners announced that it will expand the pipeline by constructing an additional 16-inch pipeline alongside the existing pipelines. The project would increase the total pipeline system capacity to 200,000 barrels per day, and with additional pumping stations to more than 300,000 barrels per day.[21] The expansion was subsequently put on hold.[22]


The Calnev pipeline is opposed by many of the residents of the communities in which the pipeline traverses. Concerns expressed by the public during the “public scoping” included public safety in proximity to schools, agriculture and soils, transportation and traffic, and fifteen other concerns.[11] During the town hall many residents also brought up the fact that Kinder Morgan's Calnev pipeline had a history of spills. One commenter mentioned that although Kinder Morgan had previously assured the public that the pipeline was safe, it nonetheless resulted in spills.[12]

Articles and resources


  1. Seba, Erwin (2010-04-20). "Kinder Morgan shuts pipe carrying fuel to Las Vegas", Reuters. 
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  7. Calnev Pipeline Expansion Project Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report Scoping Summary.
  8. Preserve Seeks Comments on Environmental Assessment for Calnev Pipeline Cathodic Protection Project - Mojave National Preserve (U.S. National Park Service) (en).
  9. "4 Key Impacts of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines" (2017-01-25). 
  10. [ Environmental Assessment,] U.S. Department of the Interior, July 2015
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  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 California School Ratings, school profiles, test scores - San Bernardino County.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Pipeline101 - Who-Oversees-Pipeline-Safety.
  18. 18.0 18.1 PHMSA: Stakeholder Communications - Operator Information (en).
  19. PHMSA: Stakeholder Communications - Enforcement Action Details (en).
  20. PHMSA: Stakeholder Communications - Operator Information (en).
  21. "Kinder Morgan to Expand CALNEV to Las Vegas", Downstream Today (2007-07-23). Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  22. [ CalNev Pipeline Expansion,] U.S. Bureau of Land Management, accessed September 2017

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

Wikipedia also has an article on the Calnev Pipeline and the San Bernardino disaster. This article may use content from the Wikipedia articles under the terms of the GFDL.

External articles