Gas detection tech makes Pacific Gas and Electric safer


Pacific Gas & Electric Company was the first utility to use vehicle-mounted technology for detecting potential gas leaks -- and with great success.

PG&E recently announced the detail of two situations where the utility used Picarro Surveyor systems to detect potential gas leaks that would have previously been difficult to locate.

In Santa Clara, PG&E crews spent months searching for a very small leak on a distribution feeder pipe off the Lawrence Expressway until Picarro Surveyor was brought in.

In East Bay, after a significant amount of time conducting walking surveys, a lengthy permitting processes and seven separate investigative digs, Picarro was deployed to assess the possibility of a leak, indicating not a gas leak but a natural breakdown of petrochemicals unrelated to PG&E's system.

"Picarro Surveyor allows us to not only locate hard-to-find leaks with greater accuracy that we didn't have before, but it also has the ability to distinguish between natural gas in PG&E's system and naturally occurring methane," said Steve Redding, director of gas maintenance and construction for PG&E. "By deploying this technology in our service area, we are better equipped to manage our pipeline network and enhance the safety of our customers and employees. We have felt all along this technology would be a breakthrough in our goal to be the safest utility in the U.S., and now that we are using the instrument in the field, it is exciting to see how it enhances our gas operations."

PG&E was recently found to be negligent in the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion.

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