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April 12, 2011 > Better communications regarding natural gas pipelines required

Better communications regarding natural gas pipelines required

Submitted By Lynda Gledhill

A bill to help prevent another tragedy like the deadly accident in San Bruno moved forward on April 5, 2011, with bipartisan support and backing from both the California Fire Chiefs Association and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Senate Bill 44 requires natural gas operators to improve communication and coordination with first responders. The California Public Utilities Commission, in consultation with the Office of Emergency Services and the California Fire Chief Association, must adopt improved emergency response standards.

"I am deeply concerned that our first responders should have the information they need to take action in the event of a pipeline disaster," said Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro). "In my district, Fremont, San Jose and Milpitas all have lines that are of concern because of their inability to withstand an earthquake. The Hayward Fault, which intersects natural gas lines in the East Bay, is the line most likely to move in northern California."

Under SB 44, the emergency response standards will ensure emergency shutdown and that pressure reduction is utilized whenever deemed necessary, including ensuring natural gas operators have established and maintained liaisons with appropriate fire, police and other local officials and that fire chiefs are given maps of natural gas pipeline locations in a format that can be easily integrated with their mapping information.

In the event of another natural gas pipeline emergency, these standards will help prevent damage to property and minimize loss of life.

Testifying in support of the bill were Hayward Fire Chief Craig Bueno, Demetrious Shaffer from the Alameda County Fire Chief Association and Fremont Fire Chief Bruce Martin. Senate Bill 44 passed with 11-0 vote.

For more information, visit www.sen.ca.gov/corbett

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