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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Dangers Underground

Uploaded: Apr 20, 2015

A PG&E gas line exploded in Fresno on Friday. The line apparently wasn't where it was supposed to be. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it was ". . . closer to the surface than anyone realized."

The scary part is that isn't an unusual situation. Many of the maps are out of date, the pipes have been moved or the ground has shifted.

I had a similar situation with a gas line three years ago. A new fence was put in between my house and my neighbor's. The fence company hit a gas line while digging a post hole. I was surprised to find that gas lines are not metal pipes anymore, but a flexible plastic-like material that puncture easily.

PG&E sent a man over to turn off the gas and someone from the City's Planning Department came over too. I got out of there and went up the street to my neighbor's house to wait out the repair.

The man from PG&E blamed A & J Fence for not checking the utility maps and the man from A & J blamed PG&E for the maps being incorrect. The City's Planner said PG&E's maps were out of date.

Repairs, new lines, changes in home utilities, could result in the gas lines being moved or replaced. My neighbor had recently remodeled and enlarged his house, so that could be why that unmarked line was there.

Fortunately the gas was shut off quickly, the line was patched, and no people or pets were injured. But the danger of these things happening more often are real.

One of my regular readers, Harald Paul Arthur Balle from Alamo, emailed me a copy of his correspondence with an Alamo Home Owner's group.

"A federal grant has been provided to Alamo Improvement Association ("AIA") for review of potential disasters along the Iron Horse Trail, Concord to San Jose, with focus in the Alamo region, Treat to Crow Canyon. Within the Iron Horse corridor are potential disasters represented by the proximity of Kinder Morgan high pressure fuel pipeline (>1000 psi) to PG&E natural gas distribution pipelines and overhead high voltage power lines. In a major earthquake along the fault lines resident in or near our Iron Horse corridor, breakage of very old pipeline assets would mix to create explosions and fires that would devastate our communities."

All of these dangerous fuel lines and pipe lines are under or alongside the Iron Horse Trail. I emailed Mr. Balle, who is also known as Hal Bailey, that I live directly behind the IHT.

"Hal,

I know about the pipelines and the Kinder Morgan high octane fuel pipe along the Iron Horse Trail. My house is right in back of the trail and the wind blows from the West. If there is a fire or explosion on that pipe, I am literally toast!"

I remember the K-M pipeline explosion in Walnut Creek or Concord ten years ago. Three or four workers were killed in that explosion and I believe several homes on the street caught fire. K-M got off easy from that, but I don't trust either K-M or PG&E for 5 minutes! Moving to Maine is starting to look a lot better to me now.
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Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Harald Paul Arthur Balle, a resident of Alamo,
on Apr 21, 2015 at 8:35 am

Thank you Ms. Rogoff for delivering this first commentary and a major disaster simply waiting for causes in our Iron Horse corridor and along major PG&E pipelines in our county.

Hal


 +  Like this comment
Posted by MsReth, a resident of California Reflections,
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:57 am

Hope you will publish articles more often!

Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:38 pm

If the "flexible plastic-like" tubing you refer to is any form of PEX, even the commercial grade variety, it is insane for the PUC to allow that for gas line unless it is sleeved with larger diameter rigid pipe. Perhaps now that Michael Peevey and his vast cronyism has left the building we might get some real regulators. Or not...

I have noticed PG&E flags right next to the Iron Horse trail near both Paraiso and El Cap. Not only are people all over the trail, it is in the back yard of hundreds of homes - and very near both Greenbrook & Baldwin elementary schools. It is another San Bruno waiting to happen. It needs to be moved, period.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:59 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Derek,

I doubt the PUC knew anything about that gas line. I'm suspicious this wasn't an official PG&E gas line.

Roz


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 23, 2015 at 6:39 pm

It may not be a natural gas line of large diameter, though there seem to be multiple types of flags in that area and I am almost certain there is more than one potential hazard there.

Not too long after the San Bruno disaster, and around the time the SF Chronicle started running their series on PG&E's lax safety history, I saw a map that showed a major line of some sort halfway between Camino Ramon and Brookside Drive. It appeared to be right on top of the Iron Horse trail.

The diameter of it was not detailed but I am almost certain it was of significant size and risk. It may an extension of that Kinder-Morgan line that carries liquid gas (the one that exploded in Walnut Creek ten years back).

If you park where Iron Horse crosses Paraiso, then walk south, look off to the left near the rear fences of those first few homes. You will see two types of flags. At least.

I have read many articles on fuel and natural gas lines, and it is clear that exact routes of some ancient lines are unknown. No matter what, anyone digging near Iron Horse needs to be very cautious.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Katty, a resident of Alamo,
on Jul 17, 2015 at 2:17 am

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 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer Groff, a resident of California Reflections,
on Jul 27, 2015 at 11:14 pm

Awesome post. I loved it. I would be here more again frequently to know the further new updates. Keep sharing.





 +  Like this comment
Posted by mark, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 12:26 am

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