San Carlos wants PG&E to shut off major pipeline

October 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A State of Emergency has been declared in San Carlos. It's because of a PG&E pipeline that runs beneath the city that's similar to the one that caused the deadly explosion and fire in San Bruno and now San Mateo County judge has ordered that pipeline shut down.

The pipeline runs along Brittan Avenue. The city estimates 60-70 percent of it runs through residential areas, which is why it is concerned about whether what happened in San Bruno could happen in San Carlos. However, PG&E insists that the pipeline is safe, otherwise it wouldn't be in operation.

"PG&E doesn't know enough about the condition of this pipeline," said San Carlos city manager Jeff Maltbie. He is worried about PG&E's Pipeline 147, which runs between Highway 280 and 101, primarily along Brittan Avenue. "Their records are mismatched in terms of the material of the pipeline, the age of the pipeline, whether or not refurbished pieces from the 1920s were reused in the creation of the pipeline."

The pipeline is similar to the one in San Bruno that ruptured and exploded in 2010, killing eight people. In an email from a PG&E employee to the city, the employee raises concerns about Pipeline 147 asking "Are we sitting on a San Bruno situation?"

A PG&E spokesperson assures ABC7 News the line is safe. The utility tested the line two years ago, but the city isn't convinced. So it's in the process of serving PG&E with a temporary injunction it obtained on Friday. It requires PG&E to immediately shut off service to Pipeline 147. PG&E has already voluntarily reduced line pressure by 20 percent and says it will consider further reductions if it can be done without jeopardizing service to customers.

Both PG&E and San Carlos want to assure residents there's no need to panic over Pipeline 147.

"There's no change in the line from yesterday to today, so there's no reason for them to panic or to have to think about leaving their homes or make any changes to their lives that they would on a daily basis," said San Carlos Deputy Fire Chief Stan Maupin.

The California Public Utilities Commission will meet with the city Monday to see if there's anything it can do to help get the issue sorted out.


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