PG&E Does Not Reveal Location of Pipelines, Violating Regulations
PG&E — the owner of the natural gas pipeline that exploded in San Bruno, Calif., last week, killing at least four people and destroying dozens of homes — does not reveal the specific location of its 5,000 miles of pipeline, a violation of federal regulations, a leading pipeline expert says.
“For security reasons, we don’t release that,” a PG&E spokesman tells TWI, though he would not give more detail on the security concerns. The spokesman also stressed that the locations are given to the necessary authorities and government agencies.
Carl Weimer — executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, a nonprofit that studies pipelines — says “federal pipeline regulations require that pipeline operators make the locations of pipelines known to people.”
According to Weimer, it’s important to make the locations of pipelines known to people living near them so that nearby residents don’t rupture pipelines when building near them and so that local governments take them into consideration when planning new development.
Weimer admits that there are “some security concerns” associated with making the location of pipelines public, but he stresses that the issue was adequately discussed at the federal level after 9/11. Weimer says:
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 the federal government took down the online National Pipeline Mapping System because of security concerns. After much analysis of those concerns the maps were put back online because the benefit of having citizens and local government know where the pipelines are far outweighed the security concerns. It is disheartening to see some with PG&E trying to hide behind that outdated concept which is contrary to the federal regulations.
Federal pipeline regulations require that pipeline operators develop educations plans that educate the public (including “municipalities, school districts, businesses, and residents”) about nearby pipelines. In addition, markers must be placed “wherever necessary to identify the location of the transmission line or main to reduce the possibility of damage,” according to the regulations.
Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission announced this weekend that it would require PG&E to inspect all of its natural gas pipelines. In a statement, PG&E said it “will comply fully with any actions directed by the CPUC.”