Following three days of hearings at the Washington, D.C. offices of the National Transportation Safety Board, PG&E concludes that the event did itself, its customers and the entire pipeline industry “a great service by exploring a wide range of issues, including inspection and testing methods, public awareness, emergency response and regulatory oversight.”
At the conclusion of the hearings, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), whose district includes the city of San Bruno, the site of the Sept. 9, 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, introduced a measure to “greatly improve natural gas pipeline safety.”
Two major elements of Rep. Speier’s H.R. 22 legislation includes the required installation of automatic or remote shut-off valves in all Class 3 and Class 4 high consequence areas and in areas within 10 mi of a high-risk seismic fault, and another requirement that pipeline operators send letters to residents if their property is within 2,000 ft of a transmission pipeline and to let them know about safety issues.
The bill would also require pipeline operators to give first responders and the Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Materials Administration emergency plans covering actions to be taken in case of a pipeline rupture.
In response to Rep. Speier’s legislation, PG&E spokesman Joe Molica says the utility will make “a conscientious effort” to educate residents, the media and local representatives about nearby pipelines with letters and other education efforts. Molica adds that in accordance with PG&E’s previously announced Pipeline 2020 program, the utility is working on a pilot project regarding installing automatic shutoff valves on the lines between San Francisco and Milpitas by the end of this year.