LOS ANGELES – In the aftermath of the devastating natural gas explosion in the Bay Area, a Southern California Gas Co. official vowed to provide customers with more information on where its pipelines are located.

The statement came a day after Pacific Gas & Electric Co., owner of the pipeline that set off a massive fireball in San Bruno on Sept. 9, released maps of major pipelines in its Northern and Central California service area.

PG&E also released a list of 100 potentially problematic segments of the pipelines–particularly those that might be vulnerable to corrosion, earthquakes and landslides–and set up a hotline which people can call to find out if they live within 500 feet of a gas transmission pipeline.

City Councilwoman Janice Hahn demanded today that similar information be provided to Los Angeles residents.

“I think that we walk a fine line between security and people having a right to know if their home is located on top of, or near, a pipeline,” she said. “I think they (the public) have a right to know the condition of that pipeline, the age of that pipeline. We’ve got to educate the public in this.”

Southern California Gas Co. Pipeline Integrity Manager Doug Schneider responded that the general location of some gas transmission pipelines is already available to the public on the National Pipeline Mapping System.

Because of security reasons, “when you start zooming in on the National Pipeline Mapping System, you only can get down so far …” Still, he said, “I think it does provide sufficient detail for people to know that there is a transmission line near their home.”

“In response to San Bruno, though, we realize that going through the National Pipeline Mapping System is cumbersome and that website doesn’t work quite as well, so we’re working diligently right now to make that same information available on our own SoCal Gas website, so customers can go there and see what those facilities are,” Schneider said.

He noted the company particularly wants the public to be aware of where its “high pressure system” is. He did not say when the information would be available.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl urged the company to also send mailers to its customers, giving them tips on how to protect themselves and their properties if they smell a gas leak.

The San Bruno explosion killed at least four people, injured dozens more and destroyed about three dozen homes.

By Christina Villacorte | City News Service