PG&E releases list of risky pipeline segments

September 21, 2010 1:03:33 AM PDT
PG&E Monday released a list of the 100 transmission pipeline segments at the top of their repair to-do list. The list was made released following public outcry in the wake of the deadly San Bruno explosion.

There is no better example why the public needs to know about these pipelines than the case of a pipeline near Redwood Boulevard and Atherton Avenue in Novato. The sections of the pipeline show up four times on the list -- and it is located right behind a complex of townhouses.

"I find it really scary, it could kind of go at any minute and there's a lot of kids in this neighborhood," Novato resident Jayne Carvill said.

Carvill knew the PG&E pipeline was there, but had no idea that different segments rank No. 8, 9, 11 and 98 on the list of segments that are most in need of repair.

It is buried in a ravine behind 143 townhomes at San Marin Valley.

"I've noticed PG&E around here for a while; I'm not so comfortable with a gas line behind there, I've known about it before, but since the whole San Bruno thing, oddly not so comfortable," Novato resident Ian Stevenson said.

PG&E executives released the list and maps at a Monday afternoon press conference. It is also setting up a new hotline number for the public to call with questions about pipelines in their area.

"They will be able to get information as to whether or not they are within 500 feet of any of these gas transmission lines or whether they're within 500 feet within any of these top 100 planning segments," PG&E President Chris Johns said.

The San Bruno pipeline that exploded was never on the list -- a list developed from segments reviewed last year.

PG&E says it cannot explain that. It will have to wait for the results of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

The top 100 ranking is a weighted list based on four criteria:

  • The potential for third party damage, such as an accident by a contractor doing work in the area
  • Potential for corrosion
  • Ground movement, such as an earthquake
  • Physical design and characteristics, such as age of the pipe

The segments can be mere feet or yards long.

"Now a segment could be an area of pipe between two valves, segment could be where the type of type is different where it transitions into another type, they could be as short as two-foot segments or mile-long segments," Johns said.

The list is raising awareness of pipeline safety all over central and northern California.

At another top-ranked site on the border of San Jose and Milpitas, shoppers at a mall expressed concern.

"I am concerned, I knew it was in Milpitas but I didn't know it was here," San Jose resident Suresh Rajan said.

PG&E said if a pipe poses an imminent safety risk, repairs are made immediately. It is still assessing whether segments of this pipeline need to be repaired or replaced.

PG&E customers can call 1-888-743-7431 for information about gas pipelines in their area.


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