Where Have All the Pipelines Gone?

A new bill making its way through the California state assembly aims to include gas pipeline and hazardous liquid disclosures as a part of the mandatory filings in all real estate transactions. The only problem is that nobody, not even the gas companies, has an accurate map of the pipelines.

So how can legislators possibly enforce this law when they don’t even know where the pipelines are located? How can they hold agents responsible for disclosing information that the gas companies don’t even know?

One of California’s gas companies acknowledged recently that they cannot say with certainty where some 5000 miles of pipes are located. 5000 miles! That’s equivalent to the drive from Los Angeles to New York and halfway back again!

In March, a California Public Utilities Commission investigation concluded that they found PG&E’s “record keeping was in a mess and had been for years.”

“Gas transmission records and safety-related documents were scattered, disorganized, duplicated and were difficult if not impossible to access in a prompt and efficient manner,” the report said. PG&E could have addressed the problems if it “had put the right people, process and systems in place over time,” it stated.

But, in fact, PG&E’s record keeping had become so lax that in the mid-1990s its pipeline history files were destroyed, apparently by accident.

Granted, PG&E is only one of the utilities that would be responsible for providing pipeline maps and data, but RE-Insider can safely assume that the problems run deeper than just one company.

From a legal point of view, this incomplete and inaccurate database of pipelines will make for a field day for aggressive lawyers. Plaintiffs will be coming out of the woodwork to challenge the maps based on unproven information.

But the biggest problem with this proposed bill isn’t the intent behind it – safety and awareness are never bad things. But without accurate and credible maps, California is just guessing about where these pipelines are really located. And I wouldn’t want the value of my home to be hurt by somebody’s guess. Would you?

Please let us know.