PG&E Testing Aerial Technology To Detect Gas Leaks

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San Bruno explosion, gas pipeline

View of ruptured section of the San Bruno pipeline that caused an explosion, September 9, 2010, with an investigator cleaning a fracture surface. (NTSB)

SOLANO COUNTY (CBS SF) – PG&E conducted tests in Solano and Yolo counties Thursday to determine the reliability and accuracy of aerial gas leak detection technologies.

The exercise simulates gas leaks, and includes decoys and false positives.

The technology being tested was developed by three companies who are competing to provide the service to PG&E. If one of the models proves reliable, PG&E could start using it to test for gas leaks.

The new technology uses lasers mounted on helicopters to detect methane gas in the air, PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson said.

“If this laser technology proves reliable, it will make our operations better and hopefully make our (system) safer for our customers,” Swanson said.

Three helicopters, one from each company, run the course. The companies are Pergam Technical Services, Lasen and Synodon.

PG&E also ran tests on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The evaluation of the study will be concluded in mid-September. If the technology proves a viable option for PG&E, it would be implemented by the end of the year.

September will also mark the one year anniversary of a PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people in the Glenview neighborhood.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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