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PG&E Tells Regulators: Pipe System Improved
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has implemented all or some of 10 separate recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) final report on the San Bruno pipeline rupture and explosion 15 months ago, according to a letter and report sent Thursday from PG&E President Christopher Johns to NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.
Since the Sept. 9, 2010 incident PG&E has “modernized” its operations and has brought in new senior leadership, two of the many recommendations NTSB made in a report that was highly critical of both the San Francisco-based combination utility and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that oversees its gas system operations (see Daily GPI, Aug. 31).
The utility referred the federal safety board to a part of its utility website that is tracking ongoing safety improvements being made under its Integrated San Bruno Response Plan. “PG&E has verified the MAOP [maximum allowable operating pressures] on 1,600 miles of pipeline, updated its emergency response plan to reflect industry best practices, and is implementing data management systems to ensure its pipeline records are traceable, verifiable and complete,” a utility spokesperson said.
“PG&E has fully embraced the NTSB’s important recommendations, and we’re grateful for the agency’s investigation and direction,” Johns said. “We are united with our regulators [CPUC and the federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration] in our determination to prevent a tragedy like the San Bruno accident from ever happening again.” He added that PG&E has completed “an unprecedented amount of work” this year to improve the safety of its gas system.”
Still awaiting a final determination from the CPUC is the utility’s multi-year Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan, which has a $2.2 billion price tag and a three-year timeline (see Daily GPI, Aug. 30).
In addition to adding considerably more automatic and remote control valves and upgrading the pipeline integrity management program, both of which the utility has been doing for most of this year, PG&E is implementing a more comprehensive, sophisticated controls framework, revising its past record keeping, stepping up its community awareness efforts, and completing pipeline pressure validation programs. These were all recommendations from NTSB.
Noting that several recommendations have been completed and the rest the utility is in “mid-stream” of its implementation, Johns said PG&E recognizes “we still have much to learn and do in the wake of the tragic San Bruno accident.” He said the company is “working with urgency” to complete all of the recommendations.
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