03/03/11

On the final day of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearings investigating the deadly pipeline explosion in San Bruno,Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) announced that PG&E would adopt the major safety components of her pipeline legislation, a commitment given by company president Chris Johns during a meeting the two had Wednesday evening.

First, PG&E committed to sending a separate safety letter to all customers within 2000 feet of one of its pipelines. Second, it committed to move forward with more automatic and remote control shutoff valves in highly concentrated areas, with priority going to pipelines that intersect with earthquake fault lines. Finally, it committed to go city by city to meet with first responders and inform them of pipelines in their area.

“These are major victories for pipeline safety,” Speier said. “We learned this week that virtually no one—including the city’s own fire chief—knew a pipeline was running through San Bruno. People have a right to know. These letters will go a long way toward increasing awareness about the existence of pipelines and empowering PG&E customers with critical safety information. Furthermore, PG&E’s commitment to meet with all first responders will ensure no one responsible for public safety is left in the dark.”

“PG&E’s commitment to move forward with more automatic and remote control shutoff valves will help limit potential damage in the event of another disaster,” Speier added. “This week we learned that PG&E relied on industry reports in its decision not to use this safety mechanism in its system, making today’s announcement a major step forward.”

“While PG&E compromised on safety in the past, these new commitments will put it in position to become the industry gold standard for customer safety,” Speier concluded.

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