BEIJING (TheStreet) -- China is admitting a dirty little secret hidden beneath its rising skylines: The nation's network of underground utility and petrochemical pipelines is a hazardous mess.
That admission, appearing in the form of a recent government order to fix the problem, is good news for companies that build, supply and and manage pipelines as well as their stock investors.
It's also proof the government wants to coax its cooling economy with infrastructure spending. Premier Li Keqiang has ruled out a full-fledged stimulus program to encourage GDP growth. Nevertheless, Beijing is funneling plenty of taxpayer money into "micro-stimulus" infrastructure projects, from new roads to high-speed railways.
In the next infrastructure overhaul, all urban sewer, water, steam and power cable pipelines are to be carefully surveyed and upgraded in dozens of cities over the next five years, according to the order issued by the State Council.
Beijing hasn't said how much it might spend to fix poorly made, sloppily installed and aging pipelines in cities such as Qingdao, Lanzhou and Shenzhen. But it's a serious undertaking that won't come cheap.
About three miles of sewer pipes blew up last fall in Qingdao, killing 62 people at home and on streets. Officials blamed the blast on fumes seeping from an old, leaking Sinopec (SHI) petroleum pipeline buried near the sewers.
In April, officials said, oil leaking from a defective Sinopec pipeline in Lanzhou contaminated a public water system serving about three million people. The oil pipe was buried under the water channel.