Underground gas lines can leak because of corrosion, because they were improperly installed, or because they were damaged by a contractor’s backhoe during a street repair project.
A leak may be PG&E’s fault. Or it may not be.
But it’s always PG&E’s job to find leaks in its equipment. It is supposed to do this in at least three ways:
- By checking to be sure more gas is not being pumped through the system than going through the meters serving the houses;
- By performing “leak surveys,” which entails driving through neighborhoods looking for dead vegetation — one sign of a gas leak
- By taking reports of "funny gas smells" from customers seriously. Unfortunately, sometimes PG&E doesn’t. If a serviceman can’t find a leak coming from an appliance, he may chalk the smell up to poor housekeeping. Sadly, some PG&E engineers feel that not all gas leaks are dangerous enough to be treated as real emergencies.