Long Beach Gas & Oil Department Keeps Long Beach Safe

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long-beach-city-seal LBGO Department Keeps Long Beach SafeOn Thursday September 9, 2010, a major natural gas pipeline exploded in a residential area of San Bruno, California.  The latest information indicates that at least 6 people were killed, over 100 people injured, and as many as 53 homes destroyed.  Natural gas flow to that pipeline has been cut and, as of this morning, 300 homes were without gas service and 700 homes were without electricity service.  The damaged pipeline was owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the private utility that serves both gas and electricity to virtually all of Northern California.  The pipeline was a 24-inch high-pressure transmission pipeline installed in 1948 that serves the San Francisco region.  The cause of the explosion is undetermined at this point.

In Long Beach, the nearly 900 miles of natural gas main pipeline are operated and maintained by the City’s Long Beach Gas and Oil Department (LBGO) and is strictly a low-pressure system.  In its 86 years of existence, LBGO is proud of its record of not experiencing any major natural gas explosions or disasters and has as its top priority the role of protecting the safety of its customers and its employees.

In order to maintain safe service, LBGO reinvests approximately $8 million annually back into this critical infrastructure based upon a long-range pipeline replacement plan.  In 2010, LBGO has replaced about 70,000 feet of its pipeline, including 52,000 feet of pre-1950 pipeline.

As required by federal regulations, LBGO continually monitors its pipeline for leakage, with personnel surveying by walking every inch of the pipeline system with sensitive gas detection equipment.  Every year, LBGO does a leak survey for all business district areas, including areas with hospitals, schools, and churches.  The remainder of the pipeline system is surveyed over a five-year span, with 20 percent of the system surveyed each year.  Located leaks are repaired or, depending on the magnitude of the leak and the leak history for that section of pipeline, the pipeline section may be completely replaced.  The federal Department of Transportation’s Office of Pipeline Safety conducts periodic audits of LBGO’s pipeline operation and maintenance practices.  LBGO has met all standards for leak survey, repairing all leaks according to federal safety standards and procedures.

LBGO has professional qualified staff working 24 hours to monitor the pipeline system’s pressure to maintain safe service as well as to notice any pressure drops indicating a major leak in the system, and to respond to emergency leak notifications.   As always, if a person notices a natural gas odor, they should immediately go outside and call LBGOs 24-hour emergency call center at 570-2140.

Please contact Chris Garner, Director of Long Beach Gas and Oil, 570-2001, for further information.

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