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PG&E: What gas mains?

Original post made on Sep 13, 2010

PG&E and Palo Alto Utilities Department officials appeared to be playing out their own version of "What's My Line?" with the city's natural-gas pipelines Monday. First, PG&E denied having any gas-transmission mains in the city. But Palo Alto officials said two minor leaks at Oregon Expressway and Alma Street were PG&E's.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 13, 2010, 10:37 PM

Comments (22)

Posted by bikes2work, a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Sep 13, 2010 at 11:40 pm

There are a bunch of PG&E gas main markers all over town. There is one right beside the railroad tracks on Charleston. Another runs along the bike path beside East Bayshore Road. They recently abandoned a 24" line that ran through Peninsula Day Care Center and Greendell School. That pipe is still there, but not active. Ask Pastor Shaw at PDCC.

Posted by T. L., a resident of Stanford
on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:00 am

There is a main line at Page Mill and Foothill which has smelled like gas for years. Given that I drive this almost everyday I can smell gas at least a couple of times a week. I presumed it was some sort of release valve. If they haven't already checked this out, my guess is they will now.

Posted by William, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:10 am

> Katie Romans, another PG&E spokesperson, said any repairs are the
> City of Palo Alto's responsibility. She also denied that PG&E has
> any gas-transmission lines in Palo Alto.

> PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles apologized for the confusion,
> explaining that they had rushed in an effort to answer questions.

A well-oiled operation would have assigned a "designated" spokesperson to deal with the press for each incident where public safety issues are in question. It's annoying to find only one person assigned to speak to an issue, but it's better to have the right answer a day later, than getting the wrong answers get into print today, only to have to undo the damage later.

One wonders just how much training/orientation the PG&E spokespersons get before let loose in the world?

Posted by John Galt, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

Fine, when the ball of fire appears to light up the sky, Palo Alto can point the finger at PG&E and PG&E can point the finger at Palo Alto and we can spend the next 20 years making many lawyers even richer. Win-win all around for politicians and their lawyers.
Doesn't this sound just like the downtown "flood control" scenario?

Posted by Caveat, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

"... but the reduced pressure will not affect customers, [the PG&E spokesman] said."

Right. Are we going to believe anything PG&E tells us, at this point?

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

A "minor leak?" For nearly two years, the smell was almost unbearable at Oregon Expry/Alma location. You would have to cover your nose with your arm or jacket! I would get a headache just by walking by...and it was almost vomit inducing a few times.

I walked by yesterday, and I was relieved that it was much better. Now that I know that I should call someone, I will do so in the future.

I just can't believe that this went undetected for so long! I mean, how often does PG&E or Palo Alto workers inspect the building on that location? I thought that it may have been "normal" since so many people walk by it every day and it continued for so long.

What a sad thing that PG&E and Palo Alto Utilities can't get it straight!

I am also concerned that PG&E wants taxpayers to pay for the cleanup and subsequent lawsuits from a disaster that was probably caused by PG&E negligence. Where is Erin Brockovich when you need her?


Posted by Just a thought, a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I think it's premature to think about what could happen to Palo Alto. Right NOW, the people of San Bruno really need help, and while it's true that PG&E owes reassurances to all of us that we are safe, we need to help the community in San Bruno get back on their feet. Some have lost everything - cars, pets, all belongings, paperwork, etc. Imagine losing everything you have - past and present - in an instant! These people are literally in shock! Let's help them and then worry about where other risk areas may be.

Posted by Any "member" name you wish, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm

"Where's Erin Brokovich when you need her?"

Right here: Web Link

Contacting her about going after PG&E isn't such a bad or farfetched idea.

Posted by Anciana, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Many thanks to the Palo Alto Weekly for their efforts in getting PG&E to tell the truth about the presence of gas lines in Palo Alto! Good job, Guys!

Posted by JA3+, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:54 pm

"Many thanks to the Palo Alto Weekly for their efforts ..."


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm

When it comes to smelling gas in or outside our homes, it is obviously up to us to call utilities.

But, in a public area, it is often the case that someone else has called in, or assumes that it is somehow normal. If we all assume that it is normal or someone else has called in, it will never get done. Perhaps the people in San Bruno who had smelt gas thought the same way. It seems that another thing to look for is dead vegetation in the area of a leak. So when you smell gas, look at the vegetation too and report that in your call.

And yes, we should be helping out the people of San Bruno as well. Also, the blood banks asked some of us to wait a week or so to donate, so now is a good time to think of doing that.

Posted by NatGasLuvr, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Listening to a KGO talk show and a fire chief suggested that when gas is smelled, to CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. This logs the call. They can call CPAU or PG&E or whomever. But this way, the corporate weasels can't say no one ever reported it.

Posted by Mike Fischer, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 14, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Hey! If PG&E has no gas pipelines under Palo Alto, then why are we paying PG&E for the gas that we are using that comes out of somebody else's pipelines. Let's stop paying until they start telling the truth. Seems like dollars are the only language they understand.
These tragedies are driving home the true cost of our addiction to petroleum based energy sources in lives lost, social and economic disruption.

Posted by Jane Doe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 14, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Yesterday there was intense gas smell near Middlefield and Charleston intersection right where Challenger School is. It was so intense. I had to search for Palo Alto online article about gas leak hotline and there it was some one had posted about gas pipelines on those two roads.

I called up City's gas leakage hotline and found out that Challenger School officials had already informed them. I was very nervous as my child goes to that school.

Following posting is very true - by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, 6 hours ago

"But, in a public area, it is often the case that someone else has called in, or assumes that it is somehow normal. If we all assume that it is normal or someone else has called in, it will never get done. "

Posted by rem, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 14, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Check out

Web Link

(Have fun - good luck)

Yep a line goes right up Middlefield pass the Challenger School

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:39 am

PG&E is using the BP template:deny responsibility, lie, deceive and then expect the tax payers to bail you out. Present day corporatism in a nutshell.

Posted by FromPluto, a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

To Just a Thought -- Thank you. As a resident of San Bruno working in Palo Alto it was nice to see someone not just always thinking about themself. You are obviously not what we call a TPAR (typical palo alto resident).

Posted by FromPA, a resident of University South
on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:39 am

Also to Just a Thought - the best post I heave read here in a very long time! Out focus should be on the residents of San Bruno right now!

Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:48 am

Dear "Pluto",
Palo Alto has a record of being the highest city for per capita donations to charitable causes, groups, and organizations of all kinds. So what is a 'typical' Palo Alto resident?

Posted by Nancy Anders, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:54 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Member, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Can't they get their act together on this? First the trees on California Street now this? What the heck is going on???

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Yes, San Bruno need much help and support right now. As a Red Cross volunteer at the SB fire, I have met some incredible people who are going through alot, but still helping out their neighbors and thinking of others. And although I can't address corporate responses by PG&E, I would like to say that the PG&E folks at the resource center were sensitive, listened to the residents and more often than not provided more than what anyone asked for. And before any skeptics step in to say "they are just protecting themselves", I want to add the observation that the care shown by individual PG&E people was not manufactured -- several had tears in their eyes, gave hugs that were real, and walked residents to the services they needed. It can be helpful to recognize and appreciate the many good people in the world.

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