skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

How Well Maintained Are SD County Gas Pipelines?

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Video published September 17, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: How common are natural gas leaks? We'll hear from an SDG&E official about how important is it for people to determine where gas pipelines are located in their neighborhoods or near places of business.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

THE GAS EXPLOSION AND FIRE THAT ROCKED A SAN FRANSISCO SUBURB LAST WEEK WAS A SOLEMN REMINDER OF THE DANGERS SURROUNDING A NATURAL RESOURCE WE ALL RELY UPON. JOINING ME TO DISCUSS THE NATURAL GAS PIPELINES AND WHAT SG&E IS DOING TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING HERE IS BRETT LANE. WELCOME.

THANK YOU.

YOU'RE WITH SOUTHERN GAS. WHAT'S THE RELATIONSHIP WITH SG&E?

I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GAS NEEDS FOR BOTH COMPANIES.

PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED.

OF THE NATURE THAT WE SAW WITH THE TRAGEDY LAST WEEK, THEY'VE BECOME VERY RARE. I THINK THE NTSB ACTUALLY RELEASED A GRAPH A FEW DAYS AFTER THE INCIDENT THAT REALLY DOES SHOW THE DECLINE IN THE NATURE OF THESE TYPES OF INCIDENTS.

IT SEEMS TO ME RECENTLY WE'VE HEARD OF SO MANY, ONE OUT IN EL CAJON AND ONE YESTERDAY I THINK IN LA JOLLA WAS REPORTED. SO NORTH PARK HAD ONE. I DON'T KNOW. JUST SEEMS AS THOUGH THERE ARE MORE INCIDENTS.

TO GIVE YOU A QUICK SENSE OF --WE REALLY ENCOURAGE THE CUSTOMERS AND THE PUBLIC IF THEY SMELL GAS TO GIVE US A CALL AT STG&E FOR SAN DIEGO. WE'LL SEND ONE OF OUR TECHNICIANS OUT WITH A INSTRUMENT TO SEE IF THEY CAN DETECT GAS. SO AS AN EXAMPLE OF THOSE THAT WE HAD YESTERDAY, WE DID HAVE SOME REPORTS WHERE WE DID NOT FIND ANY LEAKAGE OCCURRING. WE DID HAVE I THINK THE MAJORITY OF THOSE THAT WERE HIT YESTERDAY WERE ACTUALLY THIRD PARTY DAMAGE. BY FAR THE GREATEST DAMAGE WE HAVE TO OUR PIPELINE SYSTEMS FOR BOTH COMPANIES AND THIS STATISTIC IS PRETTY --IT HOLDS WELL NATIONALLY IS FROM THIRD PARTIES. THIS WOULD BE AS SIMPLE AS A HOMEOWNER DECIDING TO DIG AND INSTALL A NEW FENCE IN THEIR YARD TO A CONTRACTOR WORKING IN THE STREET.

TO A TRUCK HITTING A GAS METER.

YES.

BUT WHAT DOES STG&E DO TO MAINTAIN THE PIPELINES AND MONITOR THINGS LIKE CORROSION? MANY LINES ARE OLD, AREN'T THEY?

YES THEY ARE VINTAGE 1950s AND 60s. BUT THE ONE THING WE POINT OUT IS AGE ISN'T A DETERMINING FACTOR FOR THESE LINES. AS LONG AS YOU HAVE PROPER MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTION. WE ARE REGULATED BOTH AT THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVEL. WE HAVE SOME SYSTEMATIC CONTROLS. WE DO THIS ANNUAL OR SEMIANNUAL DEPENDING ON THE AREA. ONE PRIME PURPOSE OF IT IS TO HAVE EYES ON THE GROUND. WE'RE ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR CONSTRUCTION THAT WE MAY NOT BE AWARE OF.

THERE HAS BEEN SOME CRITICISM LEVELED THAT MAYBE THERE'S TOO MUCH INSPECTION. IT'S BEING CALLED GOLD PLATED BY THE UTILITIES CONSUMER ACTION NETWORK. MAYBE YOU'RE INSPECTING TOO MUCH. MAYBE IT'S COSTING THE RATE PAYERS A LITTLE TOO MUCH FOR ALL THE INSPECTIONS.

I HAVE HEARD THAT COMMENT RECENTLY. I WOULD RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE. WE TAKE OUR ROLE AS PRUDENT OPERATOR WHICH IS WHAT WE ARE DEFINED AS VERY SERIOUSLY. TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE THE ADEQUATE INSPECTIONS. WHAT WE DO IS COMPLY WITH BOTH STATE AND FEDERAL STANDARDS.

HAVE YOU BEEN IN TOUCH WITH PG&E TO FIND OUT WHAT THE CAUSE OF THEIR EXPLOSION WAS?

WE'VE OFFERED SUPPORT. BUT AS WE CAN ALL UNDERSTAND THERE, I'M SURE THEY'RE VERY BUSY AT THIS TIME.

WELL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

THEY HAVE PROVIDED SIGNS TO LOOK FOR IF YOU SUSPECT A GAS LEAK. THEY ARE AN UNPLEASANT SMELL, A HISSING OR ROARING SOUND, A GROUND FIRE, OR DEAD OR DYING VEGETATION. DO NOT RELY ON SMELL ALONE. AND STAY CALM AND DON'T LIGHT A MATCH OR TURN ON ELECTRICAL DEVICES. LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Eduard'

Eduard | September 17, 2010 at 8:32 p.m. ― 4 years, 3 months ago

Dear Ms. Penner,

Firstly, thank you for your/K/PBS excellent programs Round Table and San Diego Week, more

Re: Today Fr 9/17/10 morning's conversation, pls allow two remarks.

(1) - also related to this evening's upcoming TV program: gas pipelines.
3 mo. ago in Austria's St. Poelten, provincial city located 40 mi W of Vienna, there was a gas explosion. It killed 5 people, destroyed 1 house (town house with condos), damaged 20 more houses nearby.
Circumstances still under investigation. Probably caused by:

Gas pipeline and the pipe containg a high voltage electricity line had been installed crossing one another at distance less than 30cm,which is about 12 inches. The regulations say: at least 30-50cm (=12-20 in) distance depending circumstances. A few hours before the gas explosion, a short cut was reported on this electricity line. The shortcut created an underground electric arc, which burned a 10cm (4 in) hole into the gas pipe.
(a) there should have been more distance between gas - electricity conduct (b) there may have been problem with the electricy line. Final research results to be expected later this fall.
=> Important: all gas pipelines in Austria (in Europe north of the Alps) have computerized pressure monitoring; not yet clear why the incident still happend

San Bruno: No computerized pressure management; seems odd; California, global tech; and - the incident happened not any-old-where but half way between Stanford and Berkeley! I question priorities and practical wisdom. Our universities monitor compliance of coffee plantation procedures in S. America, yet we lack looking into elementary ingredients of every day modern life right here. The neglect of putting electricity lines underground is typical syndrome of our infra structure deficit. Wooden houses, plaster and cardboard; o.k. for our climate and space needs; black outs seem to happen casually (last time in Vienna just after WW2); contemporary necessities to be considered; smooth electricity, gas, water supply, modern installation. Constantly we seem to have black outs. Hate tosay it, the last black outs in Vienna had been just after the war (WWII, I mean). Not recently, and not so often.

I read in St.Poelten there were 600 fe/male firefighters engaged within the hour. Houses are concrete and brick. What would have happened to our wooden houses, with less and later firefighter involvment; San Diego is known worldwide for its shortage of these wo/men.

I live in San Diego since 30 years (love it!) Originally from Austria, I visit frequently and keep informed about certain issues over there (thus why the comparison; yet Austrian standards are similar to those in neighboring places such as Germany, Switzerland,netherlands etc. We speak 100+ million people. Though no utility expert, I am a civil engineer by training, having a certain principal understanding of the matters.

Thank you,

Best regards,

Eduard S.
Tierrasanta
Cell (619) 316-3645

( | suggest removal )