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Monday, October 25, 2010

To Where, Exactly, Will PG&E Move Deadly Gas Main?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 4:00 AM

click to enlarge Not in my backyard
  • Not in my backyard

Pacific Gas & Electric Company's announcement Friday that it will  not rebuild the gas main in San Bruno's Crestmoor neighborhood -- where 37 homes were leveled and eight people killed when the 30-inch transmission pipe exploded on Sept. 9 -- was welcome news to the area's homeowners, who were loath to return, rebuild, or try to sell with the lethal pipe still in place.

But PG&E has to put the pipe somewhere. This leaves the question: where?

The California Public Utilities Commission will eventually make the call, said Adam Keigwin, a spokesman with State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), to whom PG&E made the pledge that the pipe will be moved. One thing is for certain -- it will NOT be in another residential neighborhood, no matter what.

"Nobody is suggesting PG&E move a problem and put it somewhere else," Keigwin told SF Weekly. "Certainly [PG&E] should be able to find a place that doesn't go through a neighborhood. Certainly not this neighborhood."

Either way, the Crestmoor residents are not shot of the pipe yet: PG&E is currently debating whether or not the intact portions of the pipe can be returned to full pressure before the wintertime, when demands for natural gas spikes, the Bay Citizen reported.

PG&E should present its plan for the pipe to the PUC sometime in the next few months, Keigwin said. A cursory glace at an area map does led one to guess where PG&E might chose to reroute the pipe -- "there are plenty of uninhabited areas" where it could go, Keigwin said -- but there's bound to be wrangling, haranguing and lawsuits, no matter what. There's the nearby San Andreas Fault to worry about.

There's environmental concerns. There's questions, but no answers, save one.

"This could play itself out as long as it needs to," Keigwin said. "Just as long as PG&E holds to its guarantee that [the pipe] will not be built in this neighborhood."

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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