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Tetra Tech Rooney
115 Inverness Dr E, Suite 300 Englewood, CO 80112
P: 303.792.5911   F: 303.792.0227






Location: California
Description: 20-inch pipeline, designed to transport crude oil through earthquake-prone terrain

The Pacific Pipeline project was inspired by the need to safely and economically transport crude oil from offshore platforms along California’s central coast to exiting oil refineries near the cities of Long Beach and El Segundo. Following a series of highly publicized global oil spills around the world, pressure mounted to stop the nearly 200 tanker shipments each year along the West Coast, particularly in highly fragile areas such as Channel Islands National Park.

Obtaining the approval of the $200 million-plus project required negotiating with 13 different municipalities along the route. The population along the corridor included 92 different language groups and a broad range of socio-economic backgrounds. However, following a heated public debate, the project was backed by the PUC and U.S. Forest Service, who issued a 2,700-page report explaining why the Pacific Pipeline Project was “environmentally superior” to 15 alternatives studied by
two agencies.

The project itself posed several challenges, including the proposed route, which traveled through densely populated regions and earthquake zones. There was a high premium on safety and monitoring and Tetra Tech Rooney had specified a state-of-the-art, computerized leak-detection system that would dramatically reduce the extent of contamination in the event of a leak. This system allowed for quick and efficient detection to pinpoint the exact location and provide operators the necessary data to mitigate the effects of the problem.

The fiber optic line that was installed became instrumental in the community relations. Seeing the potential of high-tech capabilities benefiting poorer neighborhoods, the project managers offered communities up to 35 computer centers, each equipped with computers, modems, telephone lines and printing capabilities—all at no charge to the communities.

The Pacific Pipeline’s completion was a momentous accomplishment for REI and marked the beginning of more environmentally sound means of transporting crude oil along the California coastline. To ensure safety and longevity, REI incorporated the following features:

  • The 20-inch pipeline is designed to flex in an earthquake.
  • Automatic shut-off valves were placed at fault line crossings and at an average of every two miles.
  • A SCADA system checks the line four times every second for pressure, temperature, and flow; information is relayed by fiber optic cable to a control center staffed 24 hours a day.


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