NPR logo California Pipeline Operator's Leak Rate Is Higher Than Others

California Pipeline Operator's Leak Rate Is Higher Than Others

James Franco died Monday from injuries related to the San Bruno pipeline blast. California DMV/San Francisco Chronicle hide caption

toggle caption
California DMV/San Francisco Chronicle

CPUC employee Jacqueline Grieg and daughter Janessa died in the San Bruno explosion. California Public Utilities Commission hide caption

toggle caption
California Public Utilities Commission

The Los Angeles Times says Pacific Gas & Electric has a gas pipeline leak rate more than six times greater than other large gas operators around the country. The paper is tracing the aftereffects of the PG&E pipeline explosion September 9 in San Bruno, Calif. that's now killed eight people, including James Franco, who died Monday, and Jacqueline Grieg, a California Public Utilities Commission employee, and her daughter Janessa. From the Times:

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has reported 38 leaks since 2004 along about 1,000 miles of line it controls near population centers or environmentally sensitive resources, federal records show.

The utility's leak rate was 6.2 annually per 1,000 miles of transmission pipes serving 'high consequence' areas — more than six times the average leak rate for the nation's six other large operators.

The Times used federal data to assemble its report but PG&E officials say that may not provide the clearest picture:

PG&E executives questioned the comparability of federal data because other utilities may differ in their surveying techniques and interpretation of reporting requirements. The utility also attributed its recent leak rates to a more rigorous reporting standard it adopted last year after consultations with federal regulators.

Article continues after sponsorship

This may explain why PG&E's leaks are more numerous than Southern California Gas Co. but California utility regulators say they'll look at the Times' report. They've already created a panel to study whether PG&E gaslines need greater oversight.