Concerned that compressed natural gas tanks in customers’ vehicles might not be sufficiently safe, Pacific Gas & Electric is requiring inspections as a condition of continued use of the company’s filling stations.
PG&E says vehicle fuel cylinders must be inspected by certified technicians and the reports turned in by Dec. 12. The firm’s website says the notice was approved by California’s Public Service Commission, and “failure to meet the deadline will result in suspension of your fueling account.”
State law requires inspections at least every three years or 36,000 miles, the notice says, but “PG&E shares the industry concern that some customers may not be adhering to inspection requirements mandated by code. This lapse increases the likelihood that cylinder integrity problems are present that have gone unnoticed, and increases the safety risks inside and near the CNG vehicle.”
Normal storage pressure is 3,600 psi, but some tanks can handle more. Sometimes 3,600-psi tanks have been installed on vehicles whose fuel systems are designed to run on 3,000 psi, creating hazards. Ruptures have occurred in the United States and abroad, the company said, and release of energy can cause serious injuries to anyone nearby.
Owners whose tanks have been inspected within the last three years may submit certification documents to PG&E for consideration as meeting the requirement.
Click here to read the full policy change.
By Tom Berg