Cupertino residents meet with PG&E about new pipes

October 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Seven weeks ago a gas leak and explosion destroyed a condominium in Cupertino. People living in the area have been nervous about the pipeline ever since. On Tuesday night, they say that's all changed after a one-on-one meeting with PG&E.

Burning gas fumes and flames could be seen rising from the ground near a Cupertino townhouse last August. The pipe involved in the gas explosion that destroyed the home is Aldyl "A" a plastic pipe determined decades ago to be flawed and brittle.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, says the NTSB in 1998 said the pipe had safety concerns. She said, "The manufacturer even recalled the product and so what happens? Nothing."

Speier says even the manufacturer, DuPont, discontinued the pipe due to its flaws. Tuesday night homeowners met with PG&E representatives. PG&E told them the 6,000 feet of Aldyl "A" plastic pipe running gas into the NorthPoint Complex will start getting replaced next month.

Julie Bryson attended the meeting. She said, "I'm satisfied. I'm so pleased that they're going to do this. They're building a whole new system and they're trying to build it away from the houses, so that there is a buffer in case there is a leak. It will have to travel further to get to the houses."

The lines are presently right next to the homes. Resident Kathy Mack says it's unfortunate that a tragedy had to occur in order to replace pipe that should never have been used.

"So we're grateful to that poor woman whose house blew up because she initiated all of us getting our gas pipes replaced, but we feel sorry for her and her poor dog," said Mack.

PG&E showed residents the new yellow polyethylene pipe replacement they say is safer.

It impressed resident Chris Zhang who said, "Yellow plastic pipes that looks very rigid and also lightweight, and also looks very modern."

Speier wants to replace the DuPont pipe throughout the country. She wrote a letter today asking Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to make it happen.

"To immediately develop regulations, put them out for public comment, because he has the authority to take these steps and in so doing, we can move this quicker to a resolution," said Speier.

PG&E told residents they'll start replacing the plastic pipe in three weeks. The entire job is expected to take one year.


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