PG&E identifies 239 pipelines at risk of failure


A PG&E report identified 500 trouble spots of the sort that led to the San Bruno disaster. It concerns pipelines that were over-pressurized by the utility company. The report was filed last March with the Public Utilities Commission, but it didn't come to light until Monday after a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle dug it up.

The report identifies 239 gas transmission lines that are at risk of failure similar to the explosion of Line 132 in San Bruno. "It's important to remember this is 40-something, about 46 miles out of our entire system, so there is 230 lines that were indentified here, but it's only small segments of those lines. It could be anywhere from a foot to a few thousand feet," PG&E spokesman David eisenhower said. Eisenhower says the utility is taking action to test or repair the trouble spots.

Three lines on the Peninsula that were indentified include Lines 101 and 109 between San Francisco and Milpitas, and Line 132, the same one that blew up killing eight people. "How I feel, honestly, is I feel there's a hydrogen bomb ready to go off at any time without us knowing," Daniel Archer of South San Francisco told ABC7 News. He lives just 150 feet from the part of 132 that is still being used by PG&E.

He and his neighbors got a notice in the past week telling them the utility will be working on the pipe. "They did send a letter telling us not to worry about it because they'll be doing work and there'll be trucks going up and down," Vince Unsinn said. Unsinn says he trusts Pacific Gas and Electric to fix the pipe. However, his neighbor doesn't trust the utility. "They're supposed to let us know what's the problem and what exactly the location is because it's related to our properties," Tyler Tan said.

Pacific Gas and Electric says they will provide ABC7 News with a list of the 500 locations, but so far they have not done so.

State Assemblyman Jerry Hill says PG&E has hired an outside firm to assess the trouble area and he's calling on the Public Utilities Commission to demand testing on all the troubled spots."The law clearly states that you have to hydrotest those pipes afterwards and I think this is the test. This is going to be the test of the California Public Utilities Commission. Are they going to stand by the law and what it says or are they going to allow PG&E to get away with not doing the appropriate testing which is what they've been doing all along and that's what got us in trouble in San Bruno," he said.

One metallurgist who consults with utility companies on their pipelines says the way the PG&E figures the stress on its lines, the amount of pressure that is allowable, is not up to code.

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