Wednesday’s blast that destroyed the Northgate Square home of Cupertino resident, Lynn Tsui, will bring PG&E to the Northpoint complex on a weekly basis to check for leaks, reports say.
There is about 6,000-feet of 2-inch distribution line that winds throughout the 400-plus unit complex located off of Homestead Road which will inspected regularly until the 1970s-era pipeline can be replaced, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to San Jose Mercury News, “PG&E officials confirmed Friday that the leaking 2-inch distribution line that triggered Wednesday's fire was made of a type of pipe called Aldyl-A, manufactured in the early 1970s by DuPont—and there are 1,231 miles of the same type of pipe in PG&E's system running to homes across Northern California.”
Jim Findley of San Rafael, who was a gas measurement and control mechanic with PG&E for 38 years, told the Merc that he wasn’t surprised with the recent blast.
"It's been failing left and right. It's common knowledge throughout PG&E, and PG&E has refused to address it," he said.
"There's something about that era of Aldyl-A pipe. It splits. It cracks. It does not bend easily. When you put it in the ground, with stresses and strains from vibration from traffic, tree roots, it all adds up."
Susan Hubbart, a Northpoint resident, said PG&E crews fixed a leak Thursday at her condo following the explosion and fire at her neighbor’s unit Wednesday. PG&E fixed a leak in the exact same location at Hubbart’s home in April, she said. It was unclear if this week’s repair was due to a new crack or a re-repair of April’s leak.
Hubbart works from home and says her home office is right above where the leaks were repaired.
“It’s just starting to hit me today,” she said Friday. “The severity of all this.”
The Chronicle reported that officials traced the failure of the pipeline—which is being blamed for the explosion at Tsui’s home—to a crack at a T-connection in the 2-inch distribution line, 7-feet from the condo.
Neighbor Jim Higgins said he saw flames coming up from the ground in front of the condos steps. Green ivy once covered the area that now lay bare or charred from fire.
In light of the scrutiny PG&E is receiving due to the 2010’s San Bruno disaster, the National Transportation Safety Board said it is monitoring this explosion closely.
“The (California Public Utility Commission) is conducting the investigation however they are sharing information with the NTSB and given our recent experiences with PG&E, we are doing a detailed review of the data. We will be looking for any commonalities with other PG&E incidents and should we find any, are prepared to take appropriate action,” said Nantel Kelly, NTSB Public Affairs Division Chief.