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Press Conference Coverage ~ July 6, 2011


July 06, 2011 | Posted by Ian Thompson

Suisun pipeline study authors call on PUC, PG&E for more info

SUISUN CITY ó A city resident is asking the stateís Public Utilities Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric Company to come across with information on the natural gas pipelines running through Suisun City that will show whether those lines are safe.

Anthony Moscarelli, with the support of the California Healthy Communities Network, is expanding on a study of the two PG&E natural gas pipelines and aviation fuel pipeline that supplies Travis Air Force Base. He went to the press Wednesday trying to break loose a refusal by the PUC to provide information about recent pipeline inspections, classifications and what pressures the pipelines operate under.

So far, a PG&E spokesmanís reply to the press conference was that the information that Moscarelli and the Healthy Communities Network wants is only available to public safety and government officials for security reasons.

The study was started four years ago and was initially released in late March with the conclusion that the two natural gas pipelines that run through Suisun City along Highway 12 are relatively safe despite their age, but need to be upgraded and be more frequently monitored.

Moscarelli, a Suisun City homeowner who lives only a fence line away from the pipes, added the caveat then that he needed more specific information from PG&E from pipeline inspections that were carried out June 10 along the length of the pipeline through Suisun City to Cordelia.

When Moscarelli tried to get this and other information in mid-June from the California Public Utilities Commission, he was told that such information could not be released due to national security.

Moscarelli said he was further spurred to hold the Wednesday news conference by a July 1 admission by PG&E reported in the San Francisco Chronicle that it had misclassified 172 miles of pipeline, raising questions on how well the utility company monitors its system and development that is built around it.

He said he is concerned that the reason for withholding the information doesnít have to do with national security, but that the pipelines may not be up to federal code or that the needed records donít exist.

"We need to have independent people to look at these records to see if they are complete," Moscarelli said of the requested information.

The proposed Walmart store is slated to be built on land across Peterson Road from the pipelines and will bring in heavy delivery truck traffic on the road the pipelines are under, which adds to the concerns expressed by Moscarelli.

The Healthy Communities Network wants to make sure the lines have been well-tested and any pressures they are put under are low enough, Moscarelli said.

"If it is safe, we will say itís safe," he said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.


Suisun City Residents Ask PG&E For Pipeline Records SUISIN CITY: Residents Fear Pipelines Near Homes Aren't Safe

Posted: 1:09 pm PDT July 6, 2011Updated: 6:16 pm PDT July 6, 2011

SUISUN CITY -- A group of neighbors in Suisun City has banded together in hopes of forcing PG&E to open up its records about pipelines in their neighborhood.

Residents said they are worried about a new development plan that could affect two major PG&E transmission pipelines, one 32-inches and the other 16-inches long.

Residents said they have no documentation on whether the pipeline has been inspected and if it's up to safety standards. They said they fear a repeat of the San Bruno explosion.

Anthony Moscarelli of Healthy Community Research of Suisun City said the blast radius of the pipeline would be 575-feet, almost three football fields long. If the pipeline blew up it would take out all the homes 575-feet back.

The group said the pipeline runs along an area of Suisun City where the city has plans to build a new Walmart next to those lines.

The group said they're concerned the new traffic will vibrate and possibly weaken the gas lines.

"The issue is they're going to have traffic coming down with big-rig trucks that weigh 40-tons," Moscarelli said.

They said they are also concerned over the fact that PG&E came clean last week that it didn't have inspection records for 172-miles of pipeline in the Bay Area.

The group said it fears the pipeline hasnít been inspected or maintained properly.

PG&E said it recently inspected one of the two pipelines and the second will be inspected next year.

"The inline inspection that occurred in April 2011 are currently being assessed and those inspection results typically take several months to complete," said PG&E spokesperson Brittany Chord.

The neighbors want that data but, but were denied by PG&E based on national security issues.

PG&E said the inspection data was not public information.

"This data is information that we share with first responders and government officials," Chord said.

Moscarelli said without the data his group can't be sure the lines in the neighborhood are safe.

"Hopefully, we can get this study done and say there isn't a problem,"

Moscarelli said. "Something has fallen through the cracks."

He said one of the pipelines is similar in size to the one that exploded in San Bruno, but under more pressure.

Copyright 2011 by KTVU.com. All rights reserved.


Sound Clip from Press Conference
Starts at 39:29 (after a lead-in about San Bruno) Ends 41:42

The Pacifica Evening News, Weekdays - July 6, 2011 at 6:00pm

Click to listen (or download)

 


Group worried over Solano County gas pipelines

July 6, 2011

SUISUN CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- A watchdog group in Solano County is worried a pipeline explosion similar to the one in San Bruno last year could happen there.

The group Healthy Community Research says PG&E is ignoring heavy development around major gas transmission lines.

On Wednesday, members stood on a street in Suisun City where a new Wal-Mart is expected to be built.

The group says heavy trucks will cause constant vibrations no a street with a major gas transmission line running underneath it. The group also claims PG&E has not produced safety records for that line, adding to what they call a "recipe for disaster."

"If it blew up right here, it would take out all the homes," said Anthony Moscarelli, adding that 575 homes would be gone.

A PG&E spokesperson told ABC7 that a safety inspection has taken place on the major gas transmission line running through the neighborhood, but that assessment of the results are still ongoing.

A few days ago, PG&E revealed it misclassified 172 miles of gas transmission lines by not taking into consideration nearby urban development.

(Copyright ©2011 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)


Blue-ribbon blast panel rips PG&E and state PUC

Friday, June 10, 2011 (SF Chronicle)
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer

A panel commissioned by California regulators to investigate the San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion last year issued a scathing report Thursday, criticizing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s management as lax on safety and the state Public Utilities Commission as weak on oversight.

The Sept. 9 blast, said the five-member group of academics and labor and energy industry veterans, was a "consequence of multiple weaknesses in PG&E's management and oversight of the safety of its gas transmission system."

PG&E has a "dysfunctional" corporate culture that placed safety far down the priority list, contributing to the disaster that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, the panel said.

"We seriously question whether PG&E has embraced the spirit" of pipeline safety rules, the panel said. It called the company preoccupied with financial return, and said PG&E has an insular, top-heavy management almost devoid of engineering experience and more concerned with image than substance.

"Our overarching conclusion is that quality assurance has to be an integral part of a continuing process of quality management, and we didn't see that," one of the panelists, Paula Rosput Reynolds, told the Public Utilities Commission during a briefing Thursday in San Francisco.

Speculation on cause

The panel said its job was not to determine the blast's cause, noting that the National Transportation Safety Board is supposed to issue a report this year. Nevertheless, it endorsed a gas industry-supported theory that a 2008 sewer replacement project near where the PG&E line eventually ruptured was the most likely explanation for what weakened the pipe.

PG&E's failure to pay close attention to the sewer project near its 30-inch transmission line was evidence that the company isn't properly assessing potential threats to its system, the panel said. It turned out that the PG&E pipe had seams, contrary to company records that showed the line to be seamless, and the work did not account for any weaknesses the line had.

The Sept. 9 rupture in San Bruno happened at a poorly constructed seam weld. PG&E had never conducted inspections capable of detecting such problems.

In a statement, PG&E said it welcomed the "thoughtful" report and recounted its recent safety efforts as evidence of its commitment to improving its system. "We will move quickly to review the report's detailed findings and take further action to improve the safety, quality and performance of our gas system," the company said.

Rips PUC

As for the state's regulatory efforts, the panel found that the Public Utilities Commission's oversight of PG&E was "uneven" and dogged by understaffing, misplaced priorities and a lack of training.

The agency's safety compliance division is viewed as a dead-end job, it said, while policy roles are more rewarded.

The tiny force of nine inspectors in place at the time of the blast, the panel found, spent much of the time going after mobile home park operators and propane tank vendors. The Chronicle has reported that California's inspectors perform the fewest gas pipeline inspections, mile per mile, of any state.

When the commission did produce a critical audit of PG&E's operations in May 2010, it did not "scream out the need to escalate" and to seek sanctions against PG&E, Reynolds said.

Not much authority

The panel noted that the PUC regulatory staff does not have the authority to directly seek fines for safety violations and has "little flexibility"

to "address significant violations" short of full-blown investigative hearings. The agency has not fined PG&E for a gas violation for more than a decade, although the company has accounted for two-thirds of the safety violations in that time.

"The panel believes both of these institutions must confront and change elements of their respective cultures to assure the citizens of California that public safety is the foremost priority," the report said.

Commission President Michael Peevey conceded that his agency has drifted into a "something of a culture of complacency."

"We have a cultural challenge here; we have a cultural challenge of those we regulate," Peevey said.

He called the report "damning of PG&E almost across the board. ... It has no overall strategy over how it assesses the integrity of its system - that is a straight declarative sentence with an awful lot of heft."

New testing rules

After hearing the panel's findings at a meeting in San Francisco, the commission approved rules that would require all utilities to use high-pressure water to inspect gas transmission lines that have not undergone such tests, or replace them.

In a short segment of the report related to the root cause of the San Bruno disaster, the panel said the 2008 sewer replacement operation near the blast site, which involved bursting old clay pipe, was the most "plausible" triggering factor in the disaster.

The bursting caused vibrations that could have stressed the already defective seam weld, the report said.

For support, the panel cited a paper submitted to state and federal authorities last month by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America that called the sewer project the likely source of the problem.

The state panel said PG&E's campaign of periodically spiking pressure on the line was also a plausible explanation for the pipe's failure, but not as likely. PG&E has discontinued the practice, while insisting it was safe all along, and has said that it was based on a misunderstanding of federal regulations.

The panel was composed of Reynolds, CEO of PreferWest, described as a business advisory group; Larry Vanderhoef, a biochemist and UC Davis chancellor emeritus; Patrick Lavin, a union official; Karl Pister, an engineering professor; and attorney Jan Schori, former executive of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at jvanderbeken@sfchronicle.com
Copyright 2011 SF Chronicle


Report shows aging Solano pipelines safe -- for now

By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | March 10, 2011 17:43

SUISUN CITY - The aging natural gas pipelines running through Suisun City along Highway 12 are safe, but should continue to be upgraded to allow their integrity to be carefully and frequently monitored, a new study has said.

Continue reading: Part 1 / Part 2
 


Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration
Technical Assistance Grant (TAG)
DTPH5609GPHPT17

Final Report Cover Letter

Objective: Evaluate safety of aging hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission pipelines in the Suisun City pipeline corridor.

This TAG report study was awarded to The Tides Center and Anthony Moscarelli who represents Healthy Community Research of Suisun City, a project of California Healthy Communities.

The objectives of this study also included:

Addressing the issue of transmission pipelines and their lifespan in corrosive wetland soil; and development of a pipeline safety plan that addresses issues of aging pipelines.

Continued...

* Read Complete Grant Report *

 

 

© 2010/2011 Healthy Community Research

 

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