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Exposed CA Gas Pipeline Raises Concerns

Friday, September 13, 2019

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Concerns have been raised over an exposed length of natural gas pipeline located in Briones Regional Park, in Contra Costa County, California. Despite those concerns, asset owner PG&E, also known as Pacific Gas and Electric, recently noted that the section of pipeline was safe.

According to The Mercury News, the site of the 40-foot-long exposed section of pipeline had been visited last year by a PG&E geo-hazard team. And last September, PG&E announced a plan to remove hundreds of trees in both the regional park and public land as part of its Community Pipeline Safety Initiative.

Community Pipeline Safety Initiative

In September 2018, KQED reported that PG&E’s plan for tree removal made Lafayette residents angry, as a number wanted the trees to remain. The removal of the trees would make accessibility easier for first responders at a pipeline site. Tree roots can also corrode the underground structures. At the time, 207 trees were slated for removal on public property, along with another 245 in Briones Regional Park.

Founder of the grassroots group Save Lafayette Trees Michael Dawson said the residents wanted an open dialogue about the plan, which had previously been criticized for potentially threatening local wildlife. Plan critics also alleged that the city should have conducted an environmental assessment before authorizing the measure the year prior.

As of last September, PG&E had removed trees in 26 communities throughout the county; Layfette was the last area on the list. According to KQED, the pipeline safety initiative was launched in the wake of a 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people.

Recent Developments

Dawson recently shared a photo he took of the infrastructure at issue and Save Lafayette Trees cofounder Gina Dawson said in an email to city officials earlier this month that the group believes “this exposed span represents a significant and imminent threat to Lafayette community safety as well as gas reliability for our own and other communities primarily because two trees, which are situated in the eroding creek banks, loom hazardously over the pipe.”

In response to a question about if the group wanted trees near the problem area removed, Dawson voiced his adamant approval, citing that the trees were “an immediate hazard.” Howard Fuchs, a construction consultant, highlighted that as it is, the pipeline is exposed to weather, potential tree fall, children playing on it and other issues. Dawson also raised concerns over how it appears that the pipeline is unsupported.

Fuchs voiced his agreement with Dawson, adding that when these pieces of infrastructure are out in the open, they are often supported by “trusses engineered to support the pipe along its length.” As it stands, the pipeline appears to be sagging under its own weight.

PG&E spokesperson Jeff Smith noted that the utility was aware of the area in question, going on to claim that the pipeline was safe and that the area was being monitored. “If any immediate safety concerns are identified, we take steps to address them right away.”

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (9/13/2019, 11:44 AM)

Exposed pipelines tend to be at a higher risk of damage from naturally occurring incidents (tree falls, wash outs, slope failures) and man-made incidents (accidental contact and vandalism). I would suspect that this is an older section of pipeline as most modern installations try to avoid 40' unsupported spans like this, tending to go deeper and have the pipe buried in the ravine (?) floor instead.


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