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PG&E gas-main routes through Palo Alto

Original post made on Sep 14, 2010

This map, based on one downloaded from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, shows locations of the PG&E gas mains passing through Palo Alto and delivering gas to the city's Utilities Department distribution system. ==B Map produced by Shannon Corey, the Weekly's creative director.==

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010, 5:54 PM

Comments (32)

Posted by Toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 14, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Thank you for the map.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Insane.
Gunn 92 sides) and Terman schools both have their only access roads blocked by these pipelines (Atascadero/Foothill). Former, Cubberly.
A Grade school on middlefield.
What were they thinking?


Posted by Kate, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Also on the yellow lines, Walter Hays Elementary, Jordan Middle School, the entire Luci Stern complex and Children's Theater, the Children's Zoo and Museum all on Middlefield, and Children's Library..a half block away. Then there is the Palo Alto Sunrise Senior Residential complex at the corner of Page Mill and El Camino Also on Middlefield just north of University is Lytton Gardens Senior Residential complex and long-term care facility. There are churches and schools on Cowper.

How accurate is this map?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2010 at 4:40 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

And yet we fear nuclear in spite of the death toll from the necessary need to distribute energy that, even including Chernobyl, exceeds the total deaths from commercial and maritime nuclear reactor operation
It is said of cats that. once they sit on a hot stove lid they never do that again, but neither do they sit on cold stove lids.


Posted by Train Neighbor, a resident of Ventura
on Sep 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

Thanks for the map (the NPMS map site is slow with heavy traffic)

Does the connection between Cowper and Middlefield traverse Ashton or St. Claire?

When were the lines installed?


Posted by LN, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:18 am

About 1966 a kindergarten room at El Carmelo Elementary School exploded early on a Sunday morning. The resulting fire took out the rest of the wing along El Carmelo Avenue. Thankfully, no one was killed or injured.

We had always heard it was caused by a gas leak from a large gas main running along El Carmelo Avenue. Thanks for printing this map, which confirms it.


Posted by Jocelyn Dong, editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:33 am

Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

@Train Neighbor

The pipeline appears to run along Ashton rather than St. Claire. According to the PHMSA map, it is closer to East Meadow than Loma Verde.

It then follows Cowper and turns at Loma Verde.

As to the age of the system, we're continuing to research the state of the pipelines and will post additional information when we have it.


Posted by Leonorilda, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

What is shameful about the PG&E fiasco is that their execs continue to draw grossly inflated salaries and benefits and they are going to pass the cost of "repairing" their infrastructure to the consumers. Haven't we all had enough of these tactics?


Posted by Making a buck, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:34 am


To Leonorilda: sadly, you are correct, but how is PG&E any different from ANY OTHER service provider? We will be paying more for less, but that's the way our economic model works these days, and why we're being taxed to death. And it's only going to get worse.


Posted by Bo, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:39 am

> What were they thinking?

It really depends on when these pipes were laid. Before 1950, all of what is now Palo Alto that is south of Oregon Avenue (now Oregon Expressway) was farmland. Seems there was no requirement for "Comprehensive Plans" in those days--plans that outlined the development horizons for the next fifty years.

> What is shameful about the PG&E fiasco is that their execs continue
> to draw grossly inflated salaries and benefits

So how much does the current PG&E President draw in salary and benefits?

> and they are going to pass the cost of "repairing" their
> infrastructure to the consumers.

The "consumers" pay for every thing .. one way or another. Sadly, most public schools do not teach economics, or municipal finance, so the basics of how virtually all societies "pay for themselves" is lost on too many people.

If the "consumers" don't pay for the infrastructure of the gas distribution system (to include repairs/refurbishment) .. who is going to pay? Where is the money supposed to come from?

Maybe PG&E can go to Washington (or maybe the FED) and have some of the Obama-money (aka Quantitative Easing) printed and shipped out here so that the PG&E customers won't have to face higher bills for the periodic rebuilding of the company's transport infrastructure.




Posted by Pan Gloss, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:48 pm

"And yet we fear nuclear..."

Yes. A nuclear accident in that neighborhood would have gone completely unnoticed.


Posted by Don K., a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos)
on Sep 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

For years my biggest disaster fear has been "The Big One" breaking apart gas lines leading to natural gas fed fires everywhere. Second fear has been no water to put out the fires.

Here are some considerations that come to mind:

1. Automatic valve shut-off sounds great, but will these need PG&E or CPAU to close them? I kind of wonder if power will even be available. Even getting workers there to manual shut valves off may be difficult.

2. With PG&E natural gas lines passing through streets with schools, etc, shouldn't these facilities have alternate escape routes in case of a pipe line related fire? Many companies and I expect schools too to have well planned out escape routes from their buildings, maybe it is time for neighborhoods to do the same. Example, where should those who live in the Cowper and Loma Verde-East Meadow neighborhood go in case of a natural gas related fire? In our own case, we would not want to escape to across Adobe Creek based upon the maps shown, yet maybe those from Terman School would want to cross the bridge into Los Altos.


Posted by bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 15, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I believe the reference to nuclear energy refers to locating plants away from populated areas and sending energy through an electrical distribution system. We can and do cook on electric stoves and ovens - we can even heat water this way.

Prior to the availability of nuclear energy (which seveal European countries use) it has been cheaper to use gas for heating and cooking. This could change with this source for our electricity.


Posted by jj, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

To Jocelyn Dong@PA weekly,

It is also good to find out how big (diameter) these pipes are in addition
to their ages.

-JJ


Posted by live-near-pipe, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Agree with JJ. How old are they? What are they made of, and what are is the diameter?


Posted by live-near-pipe, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm

BTW, this is good information to have. Since we live near one of the pipes we can plan an evacuation route which takes us away from danger. The route appears to be out the back door and then jump the back fence into a neighbor's yard. I might put a stone near that fence, to help get over it.

Something to think about in case of a gas-pipe fire after a large earthquake.


Posted by ashton neighbor, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:17 pm

@Train Neighbor Yes the pipe goes through my back yard on Ashton and I think it is 24 inches. We've had both PG&E and CPAU out this week checking the pipe on this street.


Posted by Gary Ruppel, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2010 at 8:02 am

I can confirm that in the mid-sixties the PG&E gas transmission line on El Carmelo did indeed leak and cause the damage at El Carmelo School. Also, several years ago this same section of gas line between Waverley and Alma was replaced by PG&E's contractor (Shaw Pipeline Services. The old section was abandoned. I believe that the original line was installed in the late 40's or early 50's before the area below Matadero Creek was annexed by the City. I lived on El Carmelo in the late 40's and live now at the corner of Bryant and El Carmelo. One other thought...if we want gas we do indeed need gas transmission main line to supply us to feed our local utility lines to our houses. PG&E and our Public Works department should certainly be able get the story straight from the beginning.


Posted by Pan Gloss, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 16, 2010 at 11:57 am

"I believe the reference to nuclear energy refers to locating plants away from populated areas and sending energy through an electrical distribution system."

Nuclear plants are safe so why not put them in populated areas? Nobody would notice a problem if they didn't have a geiger counter. Electrical distribution systems are not safe. They have all those EMFs.


Posted by @ Bo, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm

The cost of PG&E's failures can be borne by the ratepayers or by the shareholders. The ratepayers (customers) do not have to bail out the company for its errors, as they have no control over PG&E management. In contrast, PG&E's management is controlled by their Board, which in turn is elected by the shareholders. Thus, punishing PG&E for management mistakes should be borne by those managers and by the shareholders who put and kept them in power.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

@pan gloss
The Nuc plants ARE in populated areas in Europe.

The US Navy runs plants in populated areas (Ships pop. 5000+, Submarines)
There is no valid health connection for 60Hz EMF. Poor people live in the cheaper locations under power lines. High power Microwaves are something to worry about, they can cook things.


Posted by Train Neighbor, a resident of Ventura
on Sep 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm

PG&E CEO Peter Darbee was paid > $7 Million last year according to Web Link

Wonder what his 2010 bonus will be?



Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2010 at 3:45 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

After the Diablo Canyon and Helms Hydro financial disasters and the "deregulation" bankruptcy PG&E became a wholly owned subsidiary of environmental activists. They could do anything they wanted as long as they shared the loot in subsidizing greenie schemes. Utility engineers, devastated because their retirement depended on PG&E stock holdings, jumped ship and were replaced by soft shoe artists.


Posted by WhoPays?, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2010 at 7:37 am

SF Chronicle article reports that PG&E has included "gas main upgrade" in its last two requests for rate hikes. The first one was granted but PG&E did *not* spend the money on gas main upgrades! The second one is pending. In a time of economic recession and joblessness, it's quite painful to endure the constant rate hikes, but ok if it's necessary for maintenance, sure. But if it goes to pay the CEO $7 million or to pump up the stock price, that's criminal.


Posted by Pan Gloss, a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

"PG&E became a wholly owned subsidiary of environmental activists."

Gosh, maybe someone ought to tell that to TURN, the liberal activist group fighting PG&E?


Posted by Jocelyn Dong, editor of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Sep 18, 2010 at 10:09 am

Jocelyn Dong is a registered user.

@jj @live-near-pipe

Reporter Sue Dremann was able to get additional information about one of the pipelines, 132, that runs through Palo Alto. It's the same line that exploded in San Bruno. Made of steel, installed in 1956 and hasn't been replaced since, according to PG&E.

Web Link

The diameter apparently varies throughout the line. Residents in Midtown report (per PG&E) the line in their yards is 24 inches.


Posted by LN, a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Gary Ruppel, above, said PG&E replaced the section of pipeline along El Carmelo a few years ago. Yet PG&E says the pipe is original. I think it's a no-brainer to believe him, since PG&E has been changing its stories right and left.


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Line 132 that exploded in San Bruno is the same line that exploded in 1966 that took out several classrooms at El Carmelo School. That same line runs through several South Palo Alto Streets to Middlefield. If line 132 can explode in 1966 under El Carmelo School then again in San Bruno in 2010, it's only a matter of time and it'll explode again.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of El Carmelo School
on Sep 19, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Don't you think they should send the kids at El Carmello to other schools until they can totally assess the safety of the situation and consider not permitting ANY schools to be built in proximity to such monsterous gas lines, if for no other reason than the fact of earth quakes in the Bay Area. There may also be a health risk associated with spending hours of time in the vicinity of these major gas mains if there are expectable very minor leaks resulting in chronic pollution that may even be carcinogenic.

The occupants of the Senior home Lytton Gardens should be considered for temporary relocation to assess whether it is safe for a senior facility to be in such proximity under any circumstances!!!

Action should be taken immediately. Your power is in numbers ---the parents of school children, the relatives of seniors who are institutionalized!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Act Immediately, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Palo Alto residents with Law Degrees should ban together to help other residents organize a petition seeking immediate action to further assess safety and consider relocating vulnerable populations (seniors, kids grades preschool through 12...). No one can trust PG&E anymore and no one wants to have to suffer the consequences of waiting for PG& E to adequately fix a situation that in all likelihood cannot be completely safely fixed. We do have earthquakes in the Bay Area!!!!!!

Act now to ensure a better life for you and your neighbor.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Gas line 132 should be shut down completely in rememberance of those who died in San Bruno or lost cherished property and possessions. The fact that this gas line runs all the way into Palo Alto makes such action a meaningful statement for the PG&E victims and for those people who may still be vulnerable to horrific incidents like this! There is no place for such large diameter piping in residential, school and other sensitive areas. Such piping should not be allowed in earth quake terrain!

Stop chattering and act now. Insist it be shut down. Call the governers office. Stage a vigil by candlelight all along line 132 once it has been SHUT OFF!


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm

aside from hyperbolic statements, it does make me think this should be disclosable to potential buyers of a property in immediate proximity of one of these major gas lines, if they date to 1956.


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