PG&E’s records are either so incomplete, flawed, or missing that the NTSB can’t verify the safety of the rest of the utility’s network. Due to “systemic problems” in the utility’s operating structure and a litany of failures by the utility and its regulators, it’s hard to say what the pipelines out there really look like.
Since the San Bruno disaster, the company has searched for all of its records, but still lacks complete notes on all of the 1,800 miles of pipeline that it operates. However, the utility has inspected 40 miles of pipe that it deemed “at risk.” But as the winter season approaches and the utility looks to increase pressure in its lines to meet demand, at least one expert in pipeline safety told the San Francisco Chronicle that the chance that there isn’t another weld like the one in San Bruno is “one in a trillion.”
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Much of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s natural-gas transmission system could be at risk of catastrophic failure, but the company’s record-keeping system is so flawed that the true danger is impossible to determine, federal investigators said Monday in their final report on last year’s San Bruno disaster.
The National Transportation Safety Board said PG&E had made numerous mistakes in the management of its transmission-pipeline system, including its failure to test more widely for substandard welds after finding several defects on the pipeline that exploded Sept. 9, 2010, and on other pipelines.
Read the full article here.