PG&E's secret pipeline map - Page 2

The utility won't release its pipeline locations — even to the Fire Department — but we managed find the info


The remarkable thing is that much of the data the city doesn't have — and PG&E won't give up — can be pulled together from publicly accessible data. The major news media, particularly The Bay Citizen, have been pursuing the story and have run pieces of the map. Several newspapers and websites have published rough maps outlining where the major underground pipes are.

But as far as we know, nobody's done a full-scale look at what the existing public records show.

Using information that the U.S. Department of Transportation has put on the Web, we've managed to put together a pretty good approximation of the secret map PG&E doesn't want you to see.

We took a map from the DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and layered it over a map of San Francisco. The maps of the southeast part of the city are more accurate; the information on gas mains going through the north and west side of town are sketchier. But the lines appear to run parallel to major streets, and we've put together a guide that at the very least can tell you if there's a potentially explosive gas line in your neighborhood — and maybe even under your street.

Obviously, every house or business that has natural gas service — and that's most of San Francisco — is hooked up to a gas pipe, and those feeder pipes run under almost every street. But the gas in those lines is under much lower pressure than the gas in the 30-inch main lines shown on this map, where pressure can reach 200 pounds per square inch. It was a main pipe that blew up under San Bruno.

It's not surprising that the southeast — traditionally the dumping ground for dangerous and toxic materials — would have the most gas mains, and the most running through residential areas. One line, for example, snakes up Ray Street and jogs over to Delta Street on the edge of McLaren Park and near a playground. It continues under Hamilton and Felton streets, under the Highway 280 and onto Thornton Street before heading into the more industrial areas near Evans Avenue.

Another main line goes under the south side of Bernal Heights, running below Banks Street, around the park, then down Alabama Street to Precita Street, where it connects with 25th Street. That line then heads to Potrero Hill, where it follows Rhode Island Street to 20th Street.

Research assistance by Nichole Dial.



It's not PG&E's policy, it's federal law.

All City emergency services have to do is make a request, as described on this webpage, and they'll be granted access to the data. Perhaps instead of carping to the press, they could spend 5 seconds on Google?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 21, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

The SFFD says they don't have the maps to locations in case of emergency, and you link to a "call before you dig' national website? Read the article and get the facts before you comment.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

Here's the policy on access:

All it takes is an email from the city government or the fire department.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 21, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

After checking the map that this information was supposedly based on, the transmission line on the south side of Bernal Heights in under Folsom Street not Banks Street!

If you live around here, you know how narrow Banks Street is -- there's no room for a 30-in pipeline. Folsom is one of the wider streets in the area ... not that it's any better having it on Folsom instead of Banks, but, c'mon SFBG, it's not that hard to figure this out based on the accessible map at

What it is. Just so you know.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 22, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

Umm hello, a 30" pipeline is 2 feet, 6 inches in diameter. How exactly is there no room in a two way street to fit this underground? SFBD locates the pipeline EXACTLY where the map you linked to says it is.
What was your point again?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

I grew up on banks. Maybe I am your neighbor. I think that there is a big pipe under the street that PG&E put in. That is why half of the street is paved and the other half is from 1929. I could be wrong, but I do remember them tearing up the street a number of years back.

Posted by Nate Miller on Sep. 22, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

The tired and silly PGE excuse, "might be used for a terrorist attack" can apply to city hall - it's a transparent excuse.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:54 am

nice how the pipes go right under General Hospital

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

Interesting note is that both the SFSU-CSU "Masterplan" and Parkmerced "Vision" projects have IGNORED entirely this issue with the increased size and densities proposed.

This is reckless endangerment unless adequate steps are taken to rectify the risk.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2011 @ 8:23 am

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