Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was hit with a $8.1 million fine for a contractor’s botched inspections of more than 200 welds on natural gas pipelines from Petaluma to Lodi, California regulators said.
The contractor, TC Inspections Inc. of Rodeo, performed substandard inspections of 224 welds on a dozen pipelines during a testing and replacement program that PG&E began after the San Bruno explosion of 2010 that killed eight people, according to the state Public Utilities Commission.
The gas transmission lines run under cities including Oakland, El Cerrito, Livermore, Petaluma, Lodi and Manteca, and the Calaveras County hamlets of San Andreas and Valley Springs, the commission said.
PG&E discovered problems with the company’s work when crews replaced a gas line in Brentwood. It found TC Inspections had performed substandard X-ray inspections on girth welds running under Fairview Avenue between Fairview Court and Balfour Road, the utilities commission said.
That line was not in service, so the commission’s staff did not fine PG&E for the Brentwood problems. However, the other pipelines that TC Inspections had vouched for were in service.
PG&E is ultimately responsible for the pipes’ condition, regardless of whether it delegated the inspection work to an outside contractor, the commission said in levying the $8.1 million fine.
None of the lines poses a public danger, said Sumeet Singh, the PG&E engineer who oversees the tracking and inspection of the company’s pipelines.
Federal and state rules require each new girth weld on an urban line to be X-rayed around its circumference. Instead of three X-ray images, TC Inspections performed only two, leaving part of each weld uninspected, PG&E officials said.