News


Could it happen here? officials ask after San Bruno disaster

Local pipeline safety checks come as Red Cross asks for financial donations to help those displaced by explosion

Officials from the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department will be taking a close look at gas lines throughout the area in the wake of the disaster in San Bruno on Thursday night.

The local investigation into pipeline safety here comes as the American Red Cross is encouraging financial donations instead of food and clothing to assist people displaced by Thursday's fire in San Bruno.

Donations can be made online at redcrossbayarea.org/donate, by calling 1-888-4-HELP-BAY or by mailing a check to: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, 85 Second St., Eighth Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94105.

There were 37 homes destroyed on five different streets in the Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood surrounding the site of the blast, as well as eight others with major or minor damage, according to city officials. The Red Cross has provided services to several hundred people in the wake of the disaster, and the organization is asking for financial donations because of the time-intensive nature of handling other donations.

Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Chief Jim Miguel said his department has already begun a review of pipeline safety here.

"We looked at our hazardous materials plan," he said. "We have, both in Pleasanton and Livermore, natural gas transmission lines."

He said those are 500 pounds per square inch (psi) lines, with one not too far from downtown Pleasanton.

"It runs mostly south, but the main line is coming through east and west just south of the Alameda County Fairgrounds," Miguel said.

Livermore has two lines, but one is south of the city and doesn't run through populated areas.

As of this morning, officials suspected that a gas line was to blame in San Bruno, where an explosion destroyed dozens of homes and killed at least four people, with flames as high as 80 feet in the air.

For now, Miguel said the fire department is waiting on PG&E's autopsy of its lines to determine the specifics of what happened. He said the apparent rupture could have come from "a dozen things," such as a manufacturing problem or a shift that could have occurred some time ago.

"I would imagine that within three or four days, they'll have an estimate about the age of these lines," he said, adding that PG&E is likely dealing with dozens of communities that want to know if a similar explosion is possible.

"When they get that estimate we'll be able to talk about the age and the construction and the depth of the lines through (Pleasanton and Livermore), and have a better sense of whether we should be concerned. Let's keep in mind that these pipes have been underground in Northern California for a long time," Miguel said. "They need to check the age of these lines."

The Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department sent one engine as part of a five-engine strike team to the disaster in San Bruno, along with a strike team leader and assistant strike team leader. Nine cities in San Mateo County alone dispatched vehicles to assist in the six-alarm fire, which ravaged a residential neighborhood.

Should something similar happen locally, Miguel said, "We'd be in much the same situation." We'd be calling people from a long way away."

But he said Pleasanton is prepared to respond to a comparable situation, with emergency plans in place for both Pleasanton and Livermore. He said the fire department, police departments and public works department are all trained on what to do in case of a similar event.

In San Bruno, volunteers are busy sorting food and organizing clothing by size and sex, said Red Cross spokeswoman Sara O'Brien.

"You've got to sort it, you've got to wash it and then people have to find out if it fits them," O'Brien said.

Monetary donations allow the Red Cross to provide people with credit cards that they can use to purchase items they need and that fit them, O'Brien said.

Blood banks are also full at this time, she added.

"(The blood banks) are overwhelmed," O'Brien said. "Donate over the next few weeks. Burn patients need longer-term treatment."

The Red Cross, along with the city of San Bruno, San Mateo County and the state, are now preparing for the "second phase" of the relief operations, said Red Cross spokesman Steve Sharp.

"This is going to last for some time. Financial assistance is going to be the most important thing that Red Cross ends up doing, so we're trying to put money in the bank to prepare for the second phase of this operation," Sharp said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 11, 2010 at 8:51 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The National Pipeline Mapping System shows the locations of the main gas transmission pipe and a hazardous liquids pipe in Pleasanton. Web Link They both run along the old railroad tracks.


Like this comment
Posted by George Withers, Pleasanton Fire Chief, Ret.
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:47 am

In addition to being concerned about PG&E's Natural Gas transmission and distribution lines in Pleasanton, we should also be concerned about the Liquid Petroleum (Jet Fuel) transmission line that runs right through some of our, residential, commercial and downtown areas. This is the same pipeline that was punctured in Walnut Creek, during a construction accident a couple years ago, with a resulting explosion and fire, that killed and injured more that 5 people.


Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Danville
on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:54 am

One wonders how and who is going to fund a major project to remove current pipelines in residential areas, especially in this state where funds are depleted? Increase coming soon on all our PG&E bills? You better believe it.


Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:27 am

Daniel, you are absolutely correct...PG&E and their Insurance will rebuild the San Bruno Community and the rest of us will pay for it. It may come as a small add-on to our monthly bills like maybe a buck or two a month...and we will the people will have nothing to say about it.
Now, to answer you question, "can it it happen here" you damn rights it can happen here and anywhere. With regard to natural gas pipelines, maybe PG&E should (and maybe they do this already) physically walk or drive the path of travel of all the underground gas lines with high tech gas leak detectors. When you discover and potential problem...check it out and handle it.

It really isn't that difficult...it's not cheap but neither is blowing up an entire community, not to mention the loss of life.

Thanks for listening, Julia from Alamo


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:02 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Julia, I'd have thought you'd rather have PG&E self-regulate through the free market. After all, no company or company executive would do something that would damage the company's long-term interests.


Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of Castlewood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:28 am

I can't believe we have our own version of IED's under our own homes, schools and streets.

Along with Wall Street bailouts, banks, utilities, IRS, local, state and federal gov'ts, not to mention outsourcing jobs to robots and other countries - who needs to be afraid of terrorists? We are doing a fine job of killing ourselves from the inside.


Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:03 am

Stacey- I think your're living in La-La land. CEOs are beholden to stockholders, both BP and PG&E are prime examples. They will cut corners and hope for the best until they have 7 or so years on the job at which time they will retire...hoping the major event doesn't occur on their watch.

They do not and will not self-regulate. Let's get real.


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 14, 2010 at 8:12 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Karen, sometimes sarcasm is hard to convey in writing.


Like this comment
Posted by Daniel
a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:21 am

Julia,

You stated in your second paragraph of your comment:

"Now, to answer you question, "can it it happen here" you damn rights it can happen here and anywhere. With regard to natural gas pipelines, maybe PG&E should (and maybe they do this already) physically walk or drive the path of travel of all the underground gas lines with high tech gas leak detectors. When you discover and potential problem...check it out and handle it."

Never mentioned "can it happen here" in my comment, who is this answer really addressed for? ;-)


Like this comment
Posted by National Pipeline Mapping System out?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:49 am

National Pipeline Mapping System doesn't work.
Now when people are interested.
But thanks for posting it.

Does someone else have Tri valley pipeline maps,
maybe from before they strangled it?


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:28 am

Stacey is a registered user.

It looks like NPMS has changed the link to Web Link

I wish I took a screenshot when I saw the map earlier.


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:44 am

Stacey is a registered user.

SFGate posted a map: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:46 am

Stacey is a registered user.

There's actually other pipes this map doesn't show. This only shows the natural gas pipes. There's a refined petroleum product pipe (jet fuel, diesel fuel) that runs along the Iron Horse Trail.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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