Mountain View residents can breathe a sigh of relief – without smelling gas.
PG&E crews completed the hydrostatic pressure testing of the natural gas pipeline that began three weeks ago and are working on the final stretch of the project, according to Mike Fuller, public works director for the city of Mountain View.
“Most of the pipeline has been tested and they found no drop in pressure,” Fuller said.
PG&E representatives scheduled two community meetings last month to explain the process and answer residents’ questions regarding the testing before it began.
“The tests will be used to enhance safety,” said Don Hall, PG&E manager of energy and solutions.
Utility officials will compile the data and use the results to verify the integrity of lines that share similar characteristics with those involved in the San Bruno pipeline explosion last September, Hall said.
The similarities in the lines include their ages as well as the type of welds employed more than six decades ago.
“We don’t have records to validate the amount of pressure the lines can hold,” said Brittany Chord, PG&E spokeswoman.
The test results will become part of an official record for the California Public Utilities Commission.
The hydrostatic testing – at Sierra Vista Avenue behind Crittenden Middle School and on Garcia Avenue near Shoreline Golf Links – required draining the lines of natural gas, refilling them with water under elevated pressures, then testing for leaks.
Crews filled sections of the 1.5 miles of underground lines in the city with water under double the amount of pressure when filled with natural gas.
PG&E officials notified neighbors, residents and businesses in the area of the work.
“We didn’t want residents to become alarmed if they smelled gas at the time we drained the line,” said Hall, assuring that “the gas isn’t combustible at low volumes.”
PG&E Superintendent John Corona acted as incident commander at the scene of the San Bruno pipeline explosion last September. Corona answered questions about PG&E’s plan for dealing with a similar situation in the future.
“Our strategy’s going to be a little different now,” he said, adding, “We haven’t had a thing like this happen in 100 years of our history.”
Corona explained that emergency responders and PG&E service crews lacked coordination among their agencies, inadvertently stifling efforts to contain the fire in San Bruno.
“We’re actively working with first responders,” he said. “We want them to know what to do when they roll up on a gas leak, and what type of access points to avoid.”
Corona said PG&E has begun coordinating with a number of different fire departments in California.
For more information, call (800) 743-5000 or visit www.pge.com.