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One More to Go: PG&E Completes 11th NTSB Safety Recommendation

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Since the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion California-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has worked to solve a number of safety issues as mandated by the federal government. The company announced Feb. 16 that it has completed the 11th safety recommendation of 12 issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the 2010 incident.

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The NTSB granted PG&E “closed acceptable action” status for installing the recommended 235 automatic and remote control shut-off valves on its gas transmission lines.

“We have made incredible progress as a company toward our goal of becoming the safest and most reliable gas provider in the country,” said Jesus Soto, senior vice president of Gas Operations. “This latest achievement puts us one step closer toward fulfilling our commitment to satisfy all of the NTSB recommendations. We recognize that we have more work to do and when it comes to safety, our work is never done.”

Automatic and remote control shut-off valves improve PG&E’s ability to quickly turn off the flow of gas in the event of a significant change in pressure. PG&E crews have installed 235 automatic and remote controlled valves since 2011. Remote controlled valves can be opened or closed with the push of a button from PG&E’s state-of-the-art gas control center in San Ramon. Remote control valves were instrumental in isolating within 10 minutes a 34-inch transmission pipeline that was struck and damaged by a third-party performing agricultural excavation in a rural area of Bakersfield in November 2015. Automatic valves are installed where transmission pipelines cross major fault lines and close automatically when local sensors at the valve site detect a loss of pressure during an anomaly event such as an earthquake.

In addition to automating 235 valves, PG&E has achieved other significant milestones in recent years toward improving the safety and reliability of its natural gas pipeline system including:

  • Becoming the first company in the U.S. to meet the rigor of a new industry standard for pipeline safety management systems and safety culture, the American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice (API RP 1173), as well as becoming one of the first utilities in the world to achieve PAS 55-1: 2008 and ISO 55001:2014 certifications for best-in-class asset management.
  • Improving response time to gas odor reports to an average of 20 minutes, which represents the top ten percent for gas utilities nationally.
  • Decommissioning all known remaining cast-iron pipe in its system, replacing it with modern plastic pipe that is more flexible and reliable during earthquakes, and newer steel pipe.
  • Replacing 127 miles of gas transmission pipeline.

The 12th and final safety recommendation from the NTSB, which includes strength testing natural gas transmission lines, is in “open-acceptable” status, indicating that PG&E’s progress is appropriate and acceptable.

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