Federal Agency Urges Inspection of Longhorn Pipeline

9-14-05 - A federal agency has said that operators of the Longhorn pipeline cannot delay indefinitely a mandated inspection of the 700-mile gas line.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration responded Tuesday to concerns by Austin city officials that the delay could threaten the safety of the pipeline, which stretches from Houston to El Paso.

Earlier this year, Longhorn Partners Pipeline LP said flow through the pipeline was insufficient to conduct a safety inspection for corrosion and structural problems.

But Brigham McCown, acting administrator of the agency, said in a statement that "an indefinite delay does not provide an adequate level of protection for the citizens and environmental areas located in the vicinity of the Longhorn pipeline system."

A 2000 federal plan that allowed the company to open the pipeline required the inspection.

Company spokeswoman Gina Johnson said company officials had not yet reviewed the decision.

Mayor Will Wynn applauded the federal action.

"I'm proud that they stuck to their guns," he said in a story in Tuesday's online edition of the Austin American-Statesman.