A high-pressure gas line San Carlos officials feared was unsafe had its pressure reduced by PG&E at 5:15 p.m. yesterday, effectively removing it from service, according to a city statement.
In the statement, the city said it believes operating Line 147 at the reduced pressure meets the intent of the injunction issued by Judge George Miram, and allows Pacific Gas and Electric to keep the line in use, providing natural gas to residences and business in San Carlos. The lower pressure in the line and the isolation of the line from the gas transmission system reduces the risk of catastrophic explosion, the statement said.
City Manager Jeff Maltbie acknowledges the effort on the part of PG&E to shut down Line 147 and continues to demand that the line remain shut down until such time as the California Public Utilities Commission can hold public hearings on Line 147 to determine the current safety of the line and any future operation of Line 147 as a high pressure transmission line, according to the statement.
The court order was issued Friday after an alleged set of internal PG&E emails was sent to San Carlos officials on Thursday, casting doubt on the condition of the 84-year-old line that runs 3.8 miles beneath Brittan Avenue.
PG&E officials this weekend said that Line 147 would be shut down “out of an abundance of caution,” but assured that the pipeline would not have been in operation if it was thought to be unsafe.
San Carlos city officials developed concerns over the pipe’s safety after PG&E representatives forwarded city officials a series of internal emails on Thursday that cast doubt on the condition of the line after a leak repair.
In one of the emails, a PG&E engineer, whose name was redacted, expressed concerns to PG&E executives about the thinning of the pipe, which dates back to 1929.
“Are we sitting on a San Bruno situation?” the engineer wrote. “Is the pipe cracked and near failure? I don’t want to panic people but seems like we should consider this and probably move this pipe ... for replacement.”
The San Carlos City Council declared a state of emergency Friday and a San Mateo County judge granted an injunction ordering the line shut down late that day. The 3.8-mile line runs the length of the city beneath Brittan Avenue, a residential street that carries thousands of residents to their homes and schools daily, according to city officials.
The state commission is weighing whether to fine PG&E up to $2 billion for the 2010 explosion of one of its pipelines in San Bruno, which killed eight people, injured more than 60 others and damaged 38 homes.