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Monday, September 20, 2010

PG&E Disseminates List of 100 Riskiest Pipelines

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Is this pipe on the list too? - PG&E
  • PG&E
  • Is this pipe on the list too?
Is this pipe on the list too?
List is released. See jump for more.

PG&E President Chris Johns told the media today a list of his agency's 100 pipes most likely to explode and ruin your day will be disseminated later today.

In the meantime, he says, customers can call (888) 743-7431, and discover whether or not they reside within 500 feet of a pipe the utility giant feels is "high risk." As SF Weekly noted last week, however, those hoping to find out if they work, study, or loiter on the corner near such a pipe are out of luck. It's also uncertain how much relief or terror one should express regarding the proximity of a pipe to one's domicile, as the stretch of piping in San Bruno that exploded last week was not on PG&E's internal list.

When asked what use area residents could make of a list of risky pipes that didn't include the one that ruptured and killed at least seven people, Johns put it this way:

"They can learn from this, maybe, that they're near a section of pipe we're monitoring because of construction, or  we're planning to replace two years from now for preventive maintenance. They can take security that we are constantly trying to look out where risks are so we do the maintenance ahead of time."

That being said, a stretch of pipe not quite three miles north of the blast zone was assessed as "high risk" in 2007 -- and the California Public Utilities Commission approved a rate hike to fund a $5 million replacement. The work went undone, however, and, in 2009, PG&E received the CPUC's blessing to undertake another $5 million rate hike to subsidize a replacement by 2013.

Responding to reporters' questions about this, Johns noted that priorities are constantly "reassessed."

While PG&E officials had hemmed at releasing pipe locations due to the threat of terrorism, Johns claimed that fears of bomb-throwers didn't delay today's release. What took time, he says, was "translating" the list into layman's English.

"This is a list used by our engineering group. It's massive spreadsheets with lots of locations and numbers on it. We had to put it in English for people to understand it," he claimed. "This isn't a list used in day-to-day form that's readable to everyone. It's used by engineers to do planning around each of the segments." 

The list, which should be up online this afternoon, was initially prepared in 2009. When asked -- repeatedly -- what could be discerned by the absence of PG&E's most infamous pipe from this list, he answered, "What this means is, we have these segments we're looking at for down the road ... And I would say those are the areas we need to concentrate on the most. We were not aware of anything in this particular area that would have met the criteria to put it on the list."

Reassured yet?

Update, 1:59 p.m.: PG&E just released it's "Hot 100" list. You can see it here. None of the pipes PG&E would most like to replace are in San Francisco County, incidentally. You can see a rough map of where the pipes do run in this city here and below.

As you can see, there's a cluster of them in the city's southeast.


PG&E's priority zones in the Bay Area

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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