Pipeline break spills a million gallons of diesel into San Francisco Bay

| 4/30/2004

A million gallons of diesel fuel has spilled out of a pipeline and into a portion of California’s San Francisco Bay, media outlets reported April 29. 

The spill was caused by a rupture in the pipeline owned by energy company Kinder-Morgan, which operates more than 35,000 miles of pipelines across the United States.

A pipeline operated by the same company split open in the Phoenix area in August.

The fuel fell into a marshy wetland area that borders Suisun Bay, the extreme eastern arm of the San Francisco Bay, which borders Solano County on the north and Contra Costa County on the south. Both the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers empty into the Suisun Bay, which is about 25 miles northeast of the city of San Francisco.

KPIX-TV reported that the pipeline runs from Concord to Sacramento. Kinder-Morgan told the station that the 14-inch pipe was shut down and that cleanup crews were en route.

The spill comes at a time when diesel prices in California are already the highest in the nation. This week, the federal Department of Energy said the national average price of diesel was $1.718; however, in California, it was $2.247.

Earlier this week, a group of independent truckers pulled their rigs off the road and protested the high fuel prices and low freight rates.

How the California pipeline break will affect fuel prices is not yet known. But the Phoenix pipeline break in August caused a major fuel shortage in Arizona that disrupted commerce and resulted in panic buying. That pipeline carried only 60,000 gallons a day, a fraction of what spilled in the San Francisco area.

That Kinder-Morgan pipeline ruptured again during tests later the same month.