CPUC orders PG&E to conduct in-depth assessments following San Bruno gas line explosion

By Dorothy Davis 

At the urging of acting Govenor Maldonado, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will issue an order to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to conduct in-depth assessments of its natural gas line systems in response to the gas transmission pipeline explosion in San Bruno last week.

CPUC has directed PG&E to check for leaks and focus on high-pressure pipelines in densely populated areas as well as provide details on what the utility has spent for actual pipeline safety and replacements since 2005.
Futher, CPUC President Michael R. Peevy outlined that the Commission also intends to appoint an independent panel of experts to assist in the investigation as well as establishing a toll-free number and an email address for anyone who has information on a natural gas smell in the San Bruno area in the weeks before the Sept. 9, 2010 blast. What was behind the rupture of the 30-inch steel gas transmission pipeline which led to the deadly explosion is still unknown, but several residents have come forward since the incident claiming the utility had been contacted numerous times with complaints of a persistent gas smell.

PG&E has already responded to the announcement of an inspection order from the State regulators stating it would “comply fully with any actions directed by the CPUC.” The utility went on to outline in it response that it routinely conducts leak surveys having completed 1.9 million in on-site service line inspections just in 2009.

Since the tragic blast PG&E efforts have been in full gear to ensure safety and restore service through activation of the utility’s emergency operations center, expanded crews, and working in conjunction with emergency personnel and the Red Cross to meet the needs of those affected. 

Having completed certain primary repairs early Sunday morning, PG&E has allowed a few hundred customers to return home on a limited basis to gather personal items as restorative and investigative work continues.

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