Levine Measure to Enhance Safety of Underground Natural Gas Infrastructure Approved by State Assembly

Thursday, May 16, 2019

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – In the wake of several natural gas pipeline disasters, the California State Assembly today unanimously approved AB 1166 by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- North Bay) to require natural gas utilities to supply “electronic positive response” to regional utility notification centers before excavations.  Regional utility notification centers are then required to make those responses available to public or private excavators. The measure was approved on a 74 to 0 vote.

In 2015, two people were killed and twelve others injured when heavy machinery cut into two underground natural gas pipelines in Fresno and Bakersfield. These were but two of the more than 5,000 natural gas pipelines struck in 2015 alone.

A recent report by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) found Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) would sometimes record that it had reached an agreement with an excavator to delay the locating and marking of pipelines when, in reality, a company employee had left only a voice mail. Such an action raised the possibility that construction could begin before a crew knew where the pipes were located. The report identified other widespread instances in which pipeline location information was falsified.

To ensure the safety of excavation crews and the public, AB 1166 would strengthen current underground natural gas transmission infrastructure monitoring by requiring natural gas transmission infrastructure to be actively identified using electronic positive response before an excavation can begin. This information would also be made available online for use by utilities or construction companies. This information will help prevent future underground natural gas leaks and explosions caused by excavation workers, protect the public and save lives of residents throughout California.

“The alarming number of Californians that have been harmed or killed from natural gas explosions must end,” said Assemblymember Levine. “With the most advanced technology available, there is no reason that these incidents continue to harm communities throughout the state. AB 1166 centralizes underground natural gas infrastructure information in a smart way that will make it easier for construction workers to stay safe on the job and for residents to stay safe in their homes, schools or businesses.”

AB 1166 now heads to the State Senate for further action.

Assemblymember Marc Levine represents California’s 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and southern Sonoma Counties.

Connect with Assemblymember Levine on social media: @AsmMarcLevine.

 

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