- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
On Sept. 9, 2010, a gas pipeline n Bruno, Calif. exploded and killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in a massive fireball that continued to erupt for hours.
Federal metallurgists concluded that the failure originated from a failed weld seam. The California Public Utilities Commission ordered Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) to provide detailed records on its entire network of more than 1,800 miles of pipe because the company had said its records indicated that particular section of pipe was seamless.
PG&E said it failed to comply with the March 15 deadline and still lacked information on some 600 miles of pipe. The company proposed to pay a $3 million fine and would add more information by August. Further, the gas company said it must make certain assumptions on the lines. They said the order from the state was unprecedented and the task was a very difficult, if not unfeasible, threshold to achieve. Finally, the company argued that the commission did not make clear just what was meant by complete records.
PG&E said the only other alternative would be to shut down 705 miles of pipeline and pressure test the systems with water pressure. They further said that such testing might result in further weakening of the lines and would be an inconvenience to their customers. The company said it had plans to test 152 miles of lines at a cost of up to $500,000 per mile. It was unclear who would pay for the testing.
The question that the commission and the state legislature must take up is, what should the cost of public safety be? Also, who should be held accountable?