PG&E took 90 minutes to shut off gas in Cupertino

September 7, 2011 8:10:30 PM PDT
Fire engines got to the Cupertino gas line explosion in five and a half minutes and PG&E representatives arrived in 11 minutes but it took their crews a full 90 minutes to reach the pipe and clamp the gas leak.

"They had to dig down three separate holes, about three foot by four foot, three to four feet deep, two of them through asphalt driveways, basically had to dig down through a street," Santa Clara County Fire Batt. Chief Kendall Pearson said.

Pearson praises crews for working fast in a challenging environment, but there are questions about whether a different system is needed -- one that provides for an easy access shut off valve.

"We have to find out what is the most efficient way to systematically make changes and restructuring so that residents and neighbors of Cupertino has peace of mind," Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong said.

A PG&E reprehensive made an appearance at the Cupertino City Council meeting Tuesday night to update the city on pipeline safety efforts. PG&E says there are 1,200 miles statewide of Aldyl-a plastic pipe, which is prone to cracking. There were six additional leaks at that condo complex.

"I can't tell you exactly the number of miles or number of T's in the city of Cupertino," PG&E Director of Gas Operations Jodie Kubota said.

There was activity Wednesday at the epicenter of the explosion. The woman living in the townhome gutted by fire is having her belongings packed up and PG&E is paying for her to live elsewhere. She was not home at the time of the explosion.

Cupertino's mayor says so far the utility has been responsive to their concerns.

"So it looks like that PG&E is stepping forward to be proactive in this post-San Bruno situation," Wong said.

PG&E has committed to replacing 12,000 feet of the problematic plastic pipe in and around the complex where the fire occurred and the utility plans to meet with homeowners association, perhaps as early as next week.


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