PG&E to make changes to its SF manhole covers

November 16, 2010 6:46:59 AM PST
Manhole covers in San Francisco will soon get a different look, but it's not a decoration, it's to make sure they don't hurt you in an electrical vault explosion. PG&E is also changing the way it inspects it s underground electrical system.

Apparently, persistence pays off. After a series of accidents in San Francisco, PG&E has agreed to change the inspection process of its electrical system and will be replacing many of its manhole covers in the city with a locking mechanism.

The city of San Francisco started pressuring the utility company after a transformer explosion in 2005 blew off a manhole on Kearny Street in the Financial District, severely burning a pedestrian. The victim, Lisa Nash, spent two months in the hospital and years in physical therapy.

And in 2009, an underground cable fire shot a geyser of flames out a manhole in the Tenderloin District. The utility company has agreed to update its underground electrical system, replacing circuits - prone to power outages. It will also replace 125 manhole covers with swivel lock caps, which will prevent the covers from blowing off in an explosion, but simply raise four inches to release any gases.

PG&E is also thinking about replacing the transformers in the city to safer, newer models. All steps to rebuild its reputation and public trust - which was hit especially hard after September's deadly gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno. The investigation into the cause of that explosion is still going on.


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