CUPERTINO (CBS SF) – Under pressure following an August 2011 gas explosion and fire at a Cupertino condominium complex, PG&E is replacing more than 1,000 miles of potentially leaky pipeline across the state.

The pipe is called Aldyl-A. It’s a 2-in. wide plastic distribution pipe that delivers gas to homes and businesses. The Cupertino incident has been blamed on a failed Aldyl-A pipe. Specifically, several leaks were found during the investigation into the incident, which happened just 15 minutes after a homeowner had left the building.

Several weeks later in Placer County, another plastic pipe failed under an intersection in Roseville, sending flames shooting into the air for 7 hours.

Now, the utility has revealed plans to spend the next three years swapping out 1,231 miles of Aldyl-A pipe across the state. There was no early indication regarding cost, but it was expected that the company would seek a rate increase to cover it.

“It’s a fairly big chunk that, you know, that you have to replace. So this isn’t something that you’re going to do in a year,” opined Richard Kuprewicz, a Washington state-based pipeline safety expert. “Plus, you’ve got to dig it up and it may be under streets and maybe in houses so the devil’s in the getting down to the pipes so they can be replaced or taken out of service.”

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Thursday, Assemblymen Jerry Hill, D-San Bruno, and Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, introduced legislation that would require state natural gas regulators to take action on safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to Hill’s office, the Cupertino fire could have been prevented if the California Public Utilities Commission had acted to replace the pipe that leaked. Hill’s office said the NTSB recommended in the 1990s that that type of pipe be phased out.

“The key here is not to alarm the public but also to keep on asking questions to be sure that you know, the solution to this issue is being dealt with prudently. And in many cases, depending on where this particular at-risk pipe is, you need to be moving to replacement,” offered Kuprewicz.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)


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