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To avoid the possibility of a gas pipeline explosion similar to the one that rocked the community of San Bruno, the City of West Hollywood is launching an investigation into its own energy infrastructures.
The West Hollywood City Council on Monday directed staff to work with local energy suppliers to assess the integrity of the city’s pipelines.
“It’s very important, as a community, that we know what’s going on,” West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said.
On Sept. 9, a gas line explosion in San Bruno in Northern California killed four people, seriously injured more than 50 people and destroyed 37 homes. As of Wednesday, there were still three people missing.
In the weeks leading up to the explosion, neighbors said they smelled gas and even called their gas company — Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) — to report the problem.
Southern California Gas Company, the gas supplier for the city of West Hollywood, announced this week they are working to make it easier for residents to get information on the age and location of high-pressure pipelines, said Denise King, a spokeswoman with theGas Company.
“We will not only patrol our pipelines, by foot and by vehicle, but also high transmission lines, and accelerate our leakage surveys,” King said.
She said the company is accelerating leak surveys of transmission pipelines in urban areas that have not been surveyed in the last six months, which will be completed within a month.
The Gas Company will include transmission pipeline information included in the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s on-line database on its website, www.socalgas.com. Information will be sent in a few weeks to customers who are located close to transmission pipelines, which are larger, high-pressure pipelines that deliver natural gas into the local distribution system, King said.
There are several public utilities that serve West Hollywood, including the Beverly Hills Water Service, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as well as Southern California Gas Company.
The West Hollywood Director of Public Works, Oscar Delgado, will be working with representatives from each of the utility companies.
Those representatives will then report to a city council meeting in the coming weeks to explain how often the pipelines are inspected and how they are maintained.
Horvath is also encouraging property owners to check with their gas service providers to see what their policies are for inspections, as a measure to proactively protect their homes and businesses.
The cause of the rupture is under investigation in San Bruno. That city did not make the list of the top 100 areas with pipelines in the state that are at-risk, or in need of repair, according to a report released this week by PG&E.
The California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for safe gas transmission throughout the state, and is working with the National Transportation Safety Board, the lead investigating agency of pipeline explosions, to determine the cause of the San Bruno explosion.
Horvath said it’s important to not take infrastructure for granted and added she wants residents or business owners to know they can call their utility company or city hall for information.
Horvath said community members are also welcome to call her office to discuss energy-related safety and concerns at (323)848-6543.
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