The PG&E natural gas line that exploded in San Bruno, California might have been averted if the company had installed more remote shutoff valves that could have minimized the flow of explosive gases from a central location. Now, company officials have backed legislation that would mandate their usage, according to the Wall Street Journal.
PG&E Corp. on Tuesday outlined plans to upgrade its California pipeline system to boost safety, a month after eight people were killed when one of its natural-gas pipelines exploded. A key element will be the installation of hundreds of automatic shutoff valves, replacing manual valves that may have contributed to the high death toll in the Sept. 9 explosion in San Bruno, It took utility employees one hour and 46 minutes to navigate rush-hour traffic to reach manually controlled valves and shut off the flow of gas following that rupture. ….Many of PG&E’s pipelines can’t accommodate such tools because they have changing diameters, take sharp turns that the robots can’t negotiate, or lack good points of entry and exit for the machines.
Upgrading the infrastructure of natural gas pipelines could lead to rate increases, and PG&E argues that state regulators would likely approve any additional costs if they were related to safety. And while the company said it already had plans in place, those have been accelerated. Considering the company has also established a multi-million dollar fund for victims of the explosion, it could be that there is a possibility of assistance for families in similar circumstances who don’t have the same access and are trying to rebuild your lives.
[Image: Stephen Mitchell via Flickr]