Move gas pipe from under school? | November 11, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - November 11, 2011

Move gas pipe from under school?

PG&E seeks to move one of two gas lines beneath Crittenden soccer field

by Nick Veronin

Officials with the Mountain View Whisman School District would like to see PG&E remove both gas lines running beneath Crittenden Middle School's soccer field, but for the time being, it appears that they will have to settle for just one.

PG&E has proposed moving a portion of a gas pipeline currently running beneath the Whisman Sports Center's soccer field, located on the back end of the Crittenden campus. PG&E officials said the project would update its infrastructure and increase public safety,

At a Nov. 3 presentation to the Mountain View Whisman School District's board of trustees, representatives from the utility explained their tentative plan to move gas transmission line No. 109 to Middlefield Road.

In the PG&E proposal, the pipe would still run under a portion of Crittenden property — the school's parking lot, which sits between Middlefield Road and a PG&E valve station, located just west of the school. The pipe must ultimately connect to that station, and PG&E officials would like to cut through the lot to get it there.

The district's board of trustees is considering whether to allow PG&E to dig up and remove the pipe, as well as whether to give the utility permission to reroute the line beneath the school's parking lot.

Craig Goldman, superintendent for the district, said he would like to see the pipe removed from beneath the Whisman Sports Complex. However, he acknowledged, the proposal is not perfect.

While the utility has proposed moving line No. 109, Tamon Norimoto, a PG&E government relations representative, said the energy provider has no plans at this time move a parallel line that also runs beneath the Crittenden field, line No. 132 — the very same line which caused the massive San Bruno explosion and fire last fall.

"Why can't you just remove both?" Steve Olson, a Mountain View Whisman trustee, asked the PG&E representative at district meeting.

Norimoto said that the line had been recently tested and that officials with the utility are confident it is in good condition.

The portion of line 132 running beneath Crittenden was last tested on Aug. 14, according to Brittany Chord, a PG&E spokeswoman. During the so-called hydrostatic pressure test, the pipes were subjected to 1.5 times the maximum allowable operating pressure for eight hours while crews monitored the line for any irregularities or leaks. Chord said line 132 passed these tests.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure that our system is operating safely and reliably," Chord said.

Members of the board pressed Norimoto and the other PG&E representatives — proposing that they might as well move both lines while they were digging down to remove line 109.

Goldman was particularly interested in the removal of both lines — not only because of safety — but also because the district plans to install artificial turf on the Whisman Sports Complex soccer field in the near future; the installation of turf would require extra caution if one of the pipes remains under the field. The 22- and 24-inch pipes are buried about two feet below the ground.

The representatives reiterated their confidence in the integrity of line 132 and said that removing both lines would be expensive as well as disruptive to PG&E customers in the area.

PG&E plans to deactivate and reroute the line no matter what the district decides, according to Norimoto. The utility will just have to take a different route if the district does not grant an easement.

"We clearly prefer that it be moved," Goldman said of the infamous pipe. "That being said, we appreciate that PG&E has recently tested the line and is confident that it is secure."


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