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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
"If it is safe, we will say itís safe," he said.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or
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
-- 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
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
The group said it fears the pipeline hasnít been inspected or maintained
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
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
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
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
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
(Copyright ©2011 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at
Copyright 2011 SF Chronicle
Report shows aging Solano pipelines safe -- for now
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | March 10, 2011
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.
/ Part 2
Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration
Technical Assistance Grant (TAG)
Final Report Cover Letter
Objective: Evaluate safety of aging hazardous
liquid and natural gas transmission pipelines in the Suisun City pipeline
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.
* Read Complete