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San Bruno Families Suing PG&E for Electrical Failure that Lead to Gas Line Explosion

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN BRUNO, CALIFORNIA – Families affected by a deadly gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., filed lawsuits against utility company PG&E, saying the company knew a pipeline was faulty.

A natural gas pipeline burst Sept. 9, sparking a massive fireball that ripped through a San Bruno neighborhood. The explosion killed seven people and destroyed 37 homes.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in a preliminary report found an electrical failure at a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. facility caused a pressure surge in the pipeline just before the San Bruno explosion. The report added that it took more than five hours for the company to shut off the gas after the explosion.

The lawsuits say PG&E knew the pipeline was “defective,” the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News reports. PG&E in its internal document said a section of the pipeline, Line 132, a few miles from the site of the explosion was at risk of failure, the newspaper adds.

The five lawsuits are calling for unspecified damages and call on the company to remove the idled pipeline from their neighborhood, a request backed by San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane.

“We want our neighborhood rebuilt, and we want our people back,” the mayor was quoted as saying.

Story via UPI.com

PG and E electrical work caused valve failure prior to pipe blast

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Knoxville, TN – In a preliminary report on its investigation into the fatal explosion of
a Pacific Gas and Electric natural gas transmission pipeline, the US National
Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday that work the utility was
conducting at a terminal upstream of the blast caused a regulating valve to
fail on the line.

     The NTSB noted that just before the September 9 blast and fire, PG&E was
working on its uninterruptible power supply system at the Milpitas Terminal,
located about 39 miles southeast of the accident site along its
30-inch-diameter Line 132.

     During that work, the power supply from the system to the supervisory
control and data acquisition system malfunctioned, which caused the valve to
move from partially open to fully open. The pressure on the line then
increased to 386 psig. An over-protection valve, which was pneumatically
activated, then maintained the pressure at 386 psig.

     NTSB said the maximum operating pressure on Line 132 was 375 psig, but
NTSB noted PG&E said the maximum allowable operating pressure was 400 psig.

     Downstream of the blast site, the SCADA system at the Martin Station
exceeded 375 psig and rose to about 390 psig by 6 pm local time, NTSB said. At
6:08 pm it dropped to 386 psig. At 6:11 pm, the time of the explosion, the
pressure at the Martin Station dropped to 361.4 psig, and then to 289.9 psig a
minute later. The amount of gas released during the incident was 47.6 million
standard cubic feet, NTSB said.

     PG&E had previously confirmed that it was performing the work at
Milpitas, but had not released further details as to effects on its system.
The blast and resulting fire resulted in eight fatalities, more than 50
injuries and 37 homes destroyed.

      The preliminary report does not reach any conclusions about the cause
of the rupture, but it does list the state of PG&E’s system before and after
the incident and details laboratory work performed so far on the section of
damaged pipeline the agency removed from the site.

Story via Platts.com

PG&E Worker Dies In Benicia Electrical Vault Accident

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

BENICIA, CA — A PG&E utility worker was killed Wednesday while working in an underground vault in Benicia, California.  Benicia fire officials said they received the initial report of the electrocution of a male employee in an underground vault at Panorama Court and Panorama Drive that contains 12,000-volt power lines at 9:53 a.m. and immediately dispatched rescue vehicles.  The victim, Max Martinez  a general construction lineman from Windsor, CA, was on a 4 man team, but was alone in vault at the time of the accident.

PG&E and CalOHSA investigators were on the scene attempting to determine the cause of the accident and if any safety rules were violated.

Get the full story and see the newscast at FoxReno