Residents, Contra Costa Fire concerned about exposed PG&E natural gas line in Lafayette park

Some residents of Lafayette and a Contra Costa County Fire Protection deputy chief have expressed concern over the condition of a PG&E natural gas pipeline that runs through a local park. 

"I'm scared standing here today," said Michel Dawson. "It's an exposed pipeline that's about forty feet in length. It's sagging, has some corrosive areas that can be open to corrosion and it has large trees that are hanging over the pipe. 

The 40-foot, exposed portion of the gas line that measures 12 inches in diameter, runs through part of Briones Regional Park along the Buckeye Ranch Trail.

It is a critical piece of infrastructure that serves Lafayette, Moraga, Walnut Creek and several other East Bay cities, which Dawson & his wife Gina, both of whom are on the city's gas safety task force, believe it's being poorly maintained by PG&E.

"This pipeline I calculated would be over fourteen stories tall and that's an inferno, but it's also and increased inferno with the gas that goes through the pipeline until PG&E shuts it off," he said. 

Stretching across a ravine that's littered with dead trees and branches, the Dawson's believe that a heavy rain could send the debris crashing into the natural gas line causing widespread damage. 

The issue got the attention of Contra Costa County Fire Deputy Chief Aaron McAlister, who sent a letter highlighting the apparent dangers surrounding the pipeline. 

"The location falls within Cal Fire designated High Fire Hazard severity zone" read part of the letter that McAlister wrote to the utility, which also expressed concern about the line's "integrity" during a "seismic event."

McAlister asked that PG&E plan a "high priority in address what has become a significant concern for the community and Fire District."

"It's something that we want to protect our community. We want to protect safety of our friends and neighbors," said Gina Dawson, who said the deputy chief's letter legitimized the concern. 

PG&E said that it will continue to review surrounding vegetation, do additional stress study and an analysis of other possible threats. 

The spokesperson also said that PG&E will continue to provide updates to local leaders of the ongoing maintenance activities of the natural gas pipeline.