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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

PG&E patches up problem pipes in West Davis

Back in February 27, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) began a project to replace 2,000 feet of natural gas distribution lines in the Stonegate neighborhood of West Davis. In November 2011, a total of 42 gas leaks had been reported, but the number has risen to 60 in the months since. A total of 81 gas leaks have been reported since 2006.

David Johnson, a resident of Stonegate, had experienced not one, but two gas leaks at his home over an 18 month span.

“I didn’t think anything about it, then my neighbor had one and then my across the street neighbor had one,” Johnson said.

The current replacement project is targeted toward only a small portion, roughly 8 percent, of the entire 4.7 miles of gas lines in Stonegate. This area has, however, had the largest concentration of leaks. It began in late February and is expected to be completed by early May.

PG&E has been working on the project on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. A boring process is utilized that should minimize the damage to the street and to private property. Davis Public Works has also been monitoring the work PG&E has been doing in the area.

A letter from PG&E sent to the neighborhood residents read, “At the end of the project, PG&E will refinish roadway services and work with property owners to restore landscaping.”

As to the cause behind the leaks, a possible explanation could be that the pipes are made from Aldyl-A plastic. Aldyl-A is reportedly susceptible to cracks and damages from rock impingements as the pipe is pressed against soil and rock.

DuPont are the makers behind the Aldyl-A pipes. Dr. Gene Palermo, a former DuPont chemist explained the shortcomings of Aldyl-A pipes to ABC News.

“It’s possible for the crack to initiate and propagate through the wall of a pipe in say, five years,” he said. “In other cases, I have seen slip crack failures that have occurred after 40 years.”

It has been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board that all Aldyl-A pipes made through the early 1980’s be replaced. Some of the pipes beneath Stonegate date as far back as 1973.

PG&E recently declined a request to hold a town hall meeting that would have served to answer questions or concerns the homeowners would have had regarding the gas leaks. In the previous year, PG&E had hosted two town hall meetings with similar agendas. This time around, they reportedly want to work on an individual basis with the customers, according to Brittany McCannay, a PG&E spokesperson.

McCannay said PG&E plans to fix more pipes in the area overtime.

“We’re moving forward with more of a comprehensive plan, which is to look at not only the Stonegate community, but the community as a whole and the region as a whole to determine what the leak history looks like throughout the region and where replacement throughout the territory is needed.”

In the meantime, it is recommended that if residents do smell gas, they should contact 911 immediately. Natural gas is normally odorless, but PG&E has added sulfur to make it more detectable.

PG&E declined to state whether other areas are also likely to be at risk of gas leaks.

ANDREW POH can be reached city@theaggie.org.


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