Officials: PG&E's release of list a good start

As part of PG&E's efforts to restore public trust in the company following the deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, PG&E officials released a list today of the company's 100 riskiest sections of gas pipeline.

PG&E engineers use the list to plan future preventive maintenance and monitoring, PG&E president Christopher Johns said at a news conference in San Francisco.

Any problem that presents an immediate threat to public safety is addressed right away, Johns said. None of the pipeline sections on the list is considered an immediate threat, he said.

According to Johns, the pipeline that ruptured in San Bruno on Sept. 9, causing an explosion and fire that killed seven people, injured more than 50 others and destroyed 37 homes, was not on the list and the cause of the explosion is still under investigation.

According to Johns, PG&E operates 6,700 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines throughout central and northern California, which the company monitors 24 hours a day.

The system has been divided into 20,000 segments that are routinely inspected for potential problems.

The list itemizes areas of concern, including sections of pipeline that are in future construction zones or spots subject to seismic activity, and sections that are potentially subject to corrosion.

The utility has set up a hotline PG&E customers can call to find out if their homes are within 500 feet of an underground pipeline or within 500 feet of one of the segments that are on the so-called Top 100 list. That number is (888) 743-7431.

“In this era of transparency and open government it was very important for PG&E to release this particular list,” said state Sen. Leland, whose district includes San Bruno.

He added, however, “They should have done it a long time ago. All the activity that PG&E is involved in should be open.”

Yee said he believes the California Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for overseeing PG&E, should take some responsibility as well for making sure the company is held accountable to the people it serves.

“CPUC and PG&E have to do a better job of letting people know what is going on,” Yee said.

State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, whose district also includes San Bruno, said he thought PG&E's release of the list was a good start.

“I think it's a good first step,” Hill said. “The list certainly covers all of the 100 we were looking for. However, the level of detail at this point is a little sketchy and wanting.”

Hill said he would like to see a list that goes into more detail about where the sites are, why they were placed on the list, and what the risk is.

He also said it seemed problematic that all the inspections are done by PG&E when he believes they should be done by regulators.

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