PG&E Warns Edna Maguire Neighbors of Natural Gas Smell, Hissing Sound

Natural gas venting on Monday and Tuesday is part of project to replace gas pipeline through the campus of elementary school, which is in the midst of an 18-month reconstruction.

Residents of the Alto and Scott Valley neighborhoods will likely smell and hear what sounds like a major gas leak on Monday and Tuesday, but Pacific Gas & Electric officials say the smell and hissing sound in the area around  is a routine part of its larger effort to  that runs through the campus.

PG&E officials said they have notified its customers in the area of the school, which is in the midst of a $30.5 million, , about its plans to vent natural gas from the existing 600-foot pipe. The venting will take place for approximately 30 minutes on each day, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday and between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Tuesday.

The natural gas will quickly dissipate into the atmosphere and will not be harmful,” PG&E officials said in a statement. “However, safety is always our top priority, and we encourage anyone who has concerns about natural gas odors in or around their home or business to call us at 1-800-743-5000.”

PG&E said service won’t be interrupted during this work. PG&E is replacing the existing pipe, moving it away from the buildings of the new campus and toward the school’s new parking lot, according to officials.

The pipeline replacement project is scheduled to finish Wednesday.

PG&E Gas Superintendent Jonathan Little assured neighbors in June that PG&E was not replacing the current 10-inch pipe with a new 12-inch pipe because of safety concerns about it. Despite the pipe’s age, he said it operates at a significantly lower pressure – 60 pound-force per square inch (psi) compared to the 450psi pipe in San Bruno, where September 2010 explosion, which happened after an unexpected gas pressure surge ruptured a substandard weld, with the blast and resulting fire killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.

“This piece of pipe does not need to be replaced – this is not about safety,” Little said. “This is about more capacity. Long after I retire, Mill Valley might develop more, and we want to accommodate that.”

The Edna Maguire campus closed June 15 when school ended. Since then, crews have slowly and steadily demolished the campus, making way for a dozen temporary classrooms that are being installed on Alto Field for the 2012-2013 school year.


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