Pipeline repair at Mitchell International Airport delayed

MILWAUKEE -- Shell Oil is delaying the repair of a jet fuel pipeline on a Mitchell International Airport taxiway. That repair was to begin on Friday, but the contractor that's hired to do the repair wants more time to fully asses the work at hand.

The pipeline in question leaked 9,000 gallons of jet fuel before officials shut it down. Jet fuel had seeped into a creek near the airport and the sewage system. For the past two weeks, trucks have been hauling in the daily fuel supply for each airline. That's a method that could cause delays for some flights.

Pulling up and replacing the section of 40-year-old pipe is a relatively simple task, however, crews say dealing with federal regulators could cause the process to stretch well into the spring. "We will remove that pipe and it will go off to a lab for PHMSA to review and analyze, and then we will put another pipe down into the hole that meets the approval of PHMSA as well" Project Manager Bob Herrera said.

With pipeline construction limited to a taxiway, the airport's primary runway has reopened. A plane is easily detoured around the work zone, so passengers may never feel an impact.

Airport officials insist things should run smoothly at Mitchell through the project.

The section of pipe being replaced is only a small part of the roughly 18,000 foot pipeline that services the airport.