PG&E, Owner of San Bruno Pipeline, Has Had 19 Pipeline Incidents Since 2002
A review of public records shows that PG&E — the owner of the natural gas pipeline that exploded in San Bruno, Calif., yesterday causing massive damage — has had 19 significant pipeline incidents since 2002.
In total, the incidents (not counting yesterday’s explosion) have resulted in one death and three injuries, according to a list provided to TWI by the Pipeline Safety Trust, a non-profit group that tracks pipeline incidents. The incidents have resulted in more than $4 million in property damage. Causes of the incidents range from corrosion, to an earthquake to “third party excavation damage.”
Interestingly, none of the explosions occurred in so-called “high-consequence areas.” As I reported in this story (part of a three-part series on pipeline safety), federal law mandates that only 7 percent of natural gas pipelines are inspected. While industry says it inspects all pipelines on its own, there is nonetheless no federal mandate to do so. Only pipelines that are designating as running through high consequence areas are required to be inspected. Because they were not in high consequence areas, none of the sections of pipeline in PG&E’s 19 previous incidents were required under federal law to be inspected.
Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, says that the pipeline in San Bruno was likely in a high consequence area, so it would have been subject to mandatory inspections under federal law.