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Deficient recordkeeping and the San Bruno explosion


PG&E agrees to $3m fine over safety records (US)

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. agreed Thursday to pay an unusual gas-safety-related fine of $3 million for what state regulators called “willful non-compliance” with orders to provide key documents about transmission pipelines.

At issue was the utility’s response to a state Public Utilities Commission order for paperwork by March 15 vouching for the safety of pressure levels for 1,805 miles in PG&E’s gas-transmission system. The agency issued the demand after a PG&E pipeline in San Bruno exploded Sept. 9, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.

Instead of providing specifics when it made its reply filing last week, PG&E cited historical records to justify gas-pressure levels on 455 miles and admitted it had no documentation for an additional 140 miles.

Agency staffers then suggested that PG&E be fined as much as a $1 million for every day it fails to produce the documents, a proposal the five-member commission endorsed Thursday.

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle, March 25, 2011

PG&E face new probe (US)

Confirming worries about the disorganized state of its pipeline records, PG&E on Tuesday said it has launched a massive effort to find documents that can prove it has set safe gas-pressure limits for its pipes after the Sept. 9 San Bruno gas-line explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

Read more: San Francisco Business Times, April 18 2011

Ex-PG&E manager says key records possibly trashed (US)

A former Pacific Gas and Electric Co. record-keeping manager told federal investigators that a top PG&E official recently acknowledged to him that the utility had likely tossed some of its missing pipeline records, according to a transcript of his interview released Thursday.

“If they couldn’t identify what it was, it probably just got s- canned,” the pipeline engineering official reportedly told the manager-turned-whistle-blower, Larry Medina, during a June 27 interview regarding last year’s catastrophic natural gas pipeline blast in San Bruno.

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle, 22 July, 2011

PG&E declared 2 lines safe despite missing records (US)

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. declared two high-pressure gas transmission pipes safe last year despite paper-trail gaps that left the utility ignorant of whether portions of the lines were running above legally allowed pressure levels, a Chronicle investigation shows.

One of the pipes runs through Discovery Bay and Brentwood in eastern Contra Costa County and is among the highest-pressure lines in the utility’s system. PG&E documents show the company did not know the grade of pipe at three places near the line’s eastern terminus at an underground gas storage site west of Stockton, but certified the segments safe anyway in a document intended to show that the utility was complying with federal pipeline inspection laws.

Read more: San Francisco Chronicle, December 11, 2011

The consultants report on recordkeeping within PG&E (US)

The testimony of Paul Duller and Alison North wrt to the San Bruno Gas disaster is now available on the  California Public Utilities Commission website.

Read the full report.

Records Management within the Gas Transmission Division of Pacific Gas and Electric Company prior to the Natural Gas Transmission Pipeline Rupture and Fire, San Bruno, California September 9, 2010.

PG&E fined nearly $20m for safety lapses in Contra Costa County

State regulators Thursday upheld a $16.8 million fine against PG&E for failing to inspect East Bay pipelines for gas leaks.

The fine, which PG&E had appealed to the Public Utilities Commission, represents the first time that the commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division levied penalties against the utility under new authorities awarded last December. The division was given more teeth in response to federal criticism of the commission’s safety policies in the wake of the deadly San Bruno pipeline blast. Previously, the safety division had to seek approval from the full commission to impose penalties.

PG&E agreed to pay a separate $3 million fine for problems with its record-keeping, but the utility fought the $16.8 million penalty that was imposed after it disclosed that it had failed for more than a decade to check for leaks on pipelines in seven Contra Costa cities.

Read more: Mercury News, April 20, 2012

Top PUC official wants PG&E fined $17m for San Carloes pipeline recordkeeping blunders

SAN CARLOS — In a strongly worded rebuke of PG&E and its senior management, a top official with the state Public Utilities Commission on Monday recommended that the utility be fined more than $17 million for failing to promptly and properly notify regulators about flawed records related to a natural gas pipeline beneath San Carlos.

The huge fine proposed by PUC Commissioner Mark Ferron is the latest development in a widening controversy over PG&E’s efforts to improve record keeping and upgrade its gas pipeline in the wake of the fatal San Bruno explosion three years ago. Faulty record keeping was found to be a contributing factor to the San Bruno blast.

Read more: East Bay Times, November 4, 2013

PG&E management allegedly ordered papers destroyed after blast (US)

A former Pacific Gas and Electric Co. official hired after the San Bruno gas-pipeline explosion to clean up the company’s records said management ordered her to destroy documents and that she found a telltale preblast analysis of the pipe in the garbage, according to a federal court filing.

…PG&E’s record-keeping is at the heart of the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in March in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office allege that the company relied on records that executives knew were suspect to vouch to government regulators before 2010 that the San Bruno transmission pipe and other gas lines were safe.

Read more: SF Gate, January 12, 2016

PG&E can’t find original records for South Bay gas lines

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. says it has lost 12 years of gas-line repair records for part of the Bay Area — the largest such gap to emerge since the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion was blamed on incomplete and inaccurate documentation.

In testimony before a regulatory judge at a recent California Public Utilities Commission hearing, PG&E executives admitted that no one can find original paper records of gas-pipeline repairs made from 1979 to 1991 in the company’s De Anza division.

Read more: SF Gate February 1st, 2016

PG&E falsified gas pipeline safety records, regulators say

Utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric is being accused of falsifying gas pipeline safety records by California regulators in the aftermath of a pipeline explosion that killed eight people in 2010.

The California Public Utilities Commission says it has opened a proceeding for what its staff says are “systemic violations of rules” governing pipeline safety. An investigation found that the utility falsified records over a five-year period.

The investigation followed the gas pipeline explosion in 2010 that incinerated a neighborhood in San Bruno, just south of San Francisco.

In 2015, the CPUC fined PG&E $1.6 billion for failing to keep its gas transmission safe. It was the largest penalty ever assessed by the regulatory agency.

Read more: NPR, 14 December 2018

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