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PG&E catches its failure to inspect Manteca facility

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POSTED June 14, 2012 2:03 a.m.

PG&E neglected to inspect a regulator in the City of Manteca in a timley manner that reduces pressure on natural gas flowing between larger trunk pipes and distribution lines.

The San Francisco-based utility caught their error and inspected the regulator. Then on Wednesday PG&E informed the California Public Utilities Commission of their failure to comply with the utility’s internal safety inspection policies.

The inspection under PG&E’s internal regulations was supposed to be done within 15 months of the regulation station being rebuilt in October 2010. It didn’t get inspected until May 29, 2012 - some five months past the deadline.

PG&E maintenance requirements calls for inspections to be performed within a calendar year to 15 months after any work involving cutting and welding downstream of the station filter and upstream of the regulation equipment. It involves depressurizing the station piping, disassembling the components of the regulator station, inspecting all internal components and replacing all rubber components.

A PG&E spokesperson emphasized that there were no problems that were detected so the public’s safety was never put in jeopardy.

PG&E crews did perform two required external inspections within the required time frame.

In a letter to the CPUC Wednesday, PG&E’s Director of Regulatory Compliance and Support Bill Gibson assured that all employees at the utility’s local maintenance operation will receive refresher training by this Friday on the need to perform internal inspections whenever cutting and welding has been performed at district regulator station.

PG&E is also revising its work procedure for the processing and scheduling of such work. The revised work schedule will be communicated to all affected employees system-wide by the end of December 2012.

PG&E is also notifying the City of Manteca and San Joaquin County officials of the issue.

PG&E’s candor and promptness at reporting an oversight in inspections for natural gas facilities contrasts with  a CPUC report that harshly criticized PG&E’s failure in past years to inspect natural gas pipelines and make the public aware of lapses and problems in a timely manner.

PG&E ‘s brass have repeatedly emphasized that safety and regaining the public’s confidence is their top priority in light of the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight and destroyed almost three dozen homes.

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