PG&E’s 100 highest risk natural gas transmission pipelines in the Bay Area include pipe links in seven places in Alameda County and two in Contra Costa County, the utility company disclosed Monday.
Responding to public demand for more information after a deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion, top utility executives said they released an internal list, compiled in 2009, of the 100 most risky pipe segments an effort to rebuild public trust about the safety of its natural gas system.
“We are trying to be transparent,” said Christopher Johns, president of Pacific Gas & Co., in a news conference in San Francisco. By providing the list, he said, “Our customers will have better information on how we plan for the safety of our natural gas pipelines.”
Utility executives said they prepare the list annually to determine priorities for inspecting, maintaining and replacing the 20,000 segments within 6,700 miles of natural gas pipelines. Some segments on the list are as short as two feet, while others are more than a mile.
Inclusion on the list does not mean there is an imminent danger of explosion, officials said. PG&E judges risk for pipelines with a rating system based on several factors such as age, potential corrosion or vulnerability to an earthquake, or potential damage from a contractor digging up nearby ground.
The pipeline segment that exploded Sept. 9 was not on the top 100 list, Johns said. The explosion killed four people and destroyed 37 homes. Another three people are feared dead.
Johns said he couldn’t say why the San Bruno pipe segment failed to make the list because the cause of the accident hasn’t been determined.
PG&E said three of the risky pipeline segments that made the list are along Rumrill Boulevard in San Pablo, which is vulnerable to earthquake shaking. To reduce the risk, utility officials said they plan to replace 300 feet of pipe in the area in 2011.
San Pablo City Manager Matt Rodriguez said PG&E has an obligation to meet with city officials and explain the risk — something PG&E officials say they will do with all the cities that have pipelines on the risk list.
State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said PG&E needs to go beyond making the list and fix the vulnerable pipelines.
PG&E previously has been granted utility rate increases to replace high risk pipeline segments, but then decided to spend the money on other pipeline work, Hill said.
“Residents need to be assured that the pipelines in their communities are safe and that utilities are properly regulated,” Hill said.
PG&E released a map of the top 100 high risk pipelines on its website, http://pge.com. Individual utility customers can call a PG&E hot line at 1-888-743-7431 to find out if their home is within 500 feet of a high risk pipeline segment, or any other utility natural gas pipeline.