Our Historic Impacts

PG&E continues to expand the application of sustainable principles, practices and technologies across active remediation projects.

PG&E continues to operate a comprehensive program of environmental remediation at sites throughout our service area. The program’s goal is to sustainably reduce or eliminate the remaining environmental impacts associated with our historic operations, or those of predecessor companies. At more than 150 sites, including divested power plants, former manufactured gas plants and various PG&E operating facilities, we are taking responsibility for addressing these historic impacts. We strive to do so in a manner that supports and engages communities and reduces local impacts as much as possible during the cleanup process.

PG&E’s Natural Gas Compressor Stations

PG&E’s natural gas system includes more than 42,000 miles of distribution pipelines and 6,750 miles of backbone and local transmission pipelines, serving 4.4 million commercial and residential gas customers. Essential to this system are eight gas compressor stations which receive and move natural gas throughout the system.

The historic use of hexavalent chromium at two of these stations, which was consistent with industry practice at the time and occurred long before the environmental standards to which we adhere today, resulted in groundwater contamination that PG&E is actively working to address.

Topock Compressor Station

At the Topock Compressor Station in San Bernardino County, we continue to make steady progress toward a final cleanup plan for contamination in and around the facility, which is located about a half mile from the Colorado River. PG&E is committed to conducting a timely and thorough cleanup of the site in collaboration with regulatory agencies, Native American tribes and other stakeholders.

In 2012, we successfully completed the preliminary groundwater cleanup plan, known as the 30 percent design phase, following a public review and comment process. The plan has moved to the 60 percent design phase, which will be reviewed by the agencies and tribes. PG&E also submitted a plan to complete the investigation of soil contamination in and around the compressor station. Until final steps can be undertaken, PG&E continues interim groundwater treatment measures that ensure the ongoing protection of the Colorado River.

Working with local stakeholders is a critical component of our cleanup approach. In 2012, we signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with four Native American tribes to ensure that they have the resources and information necessary to participate in important decisions related to the cleanup. Working in coordination with the agencies and tribes, we also implemented an orientation program and developed digital and physical site models to raise awareness about the cleanup and the cultural significance of the land near the compressor station.

Hinkley Compressor Station

Consultants monitor the whole house water treatment systems.

PG&E consultants regularly monitor performance of the whole house water treatment systems.

At the Hinkley Compressor Station, PG&E remains committed to protecting public health and safety, while cleaning up the environment, restoring water quality, and recognizing and responding to community concerns.

As part of our ongoing effort to listen and respond to the concerns of Hinkley residents, PG&E launched a program in 2012 to provide whole-house water treatment systems to eligible residents. The systems will provide a reliable water supply that can be used for indoor uses such as drinking, cooking and bathing. The program built on an earlier commitment to sample domestic wells and provide bottled drinking water to any resident who lives within one mile of the boundary of the chromium 6 plume.

We have made significant progress in treating the plume, including demonstrating the effectiveness of the interim steps taken to eliminate plume migration in key areas and reducing the highest levels of chromium contamination at the source area. In July 2013, the Regional Water Board certified a final environmental impact report evaluating the Utility's proposed remedial methods to contain and remediate the chromium plume and the potential environmental impacts. The Regional Water Board is expected to develop preliminary cleanup standards later in 2013 and issue final cleanup standards in 2014.

We have also supported the Hinkley community through community investments focused on youth, health and wellness, education and workforce development. For example, PG&E developed the Hinkley Career Training Program in partnership with the Career Institute, an organization that specializes in career-building services for young adults. We also co-sponsored a community health and resource fair, among other local initiatives. PG&E maintains a local office in Hinkley to assist residents with their needs and regularly communicates with the public.

Manufactured Gas Plants

PG&E continues to make significant progress in addressing 41 manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites owned or operated by PG&E or its predecessor companies. In the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, before natural gas was available as an energy source, thousands of MGPs were located in cities and towns across the country, using coal and oil to produce gas for lighting, heating and cooking. With the arrival of natural gas in the 1930s, most of the MGP sites in PG&E’s service area were closed and the properties put to other uses.

PG&E’s approach to cleanup of these sites, which are often located in business or industrial areas, has been to proactively engage communities with transparent and timely information about our activities. During the planning process, we work with neighboring residents and businesses to reduce what can potentially be disruptive construction impacts such as noise, dust, vibration and traffic associated with remediation projects. We also work to address community concerns during construction and adjust our activities as needed.

iamge of MGP site in Fresno

As an alternative to removing and trucking waste materials, PG&E used an onsite soil stabilization process as a more sustainable remediation technique at an MGP site in Fresno.

In 2012, PG&E substantially completed construction at several former MGP sites in the communities of Oakland, Fresno, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Selma and Watsonville. More detailed information on specific MGP sites is available on PG&E’s website.

PG&E is also nearing completion of a major cleanup effort at the former Hunters Point Power Plant in southeast San Francisco. In 2012, we completed major portions of the soil remediation and site restoration. Throughout these efforts, PG&E maintained its longstanding commitment to actively engaging community leaders via a Project Advisory Committee, informing the local community about our efforts and supporting the community through sustainable remediation practices and a local hiring initiative.

Sustainable Remediation

PG&E continues to expand the application of sustainable principles, practices and technologies across active remediation projects. To do so, we have implemented guidance for sustainable remediation that was prepared and piloted with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Specially-modified machinery transfers waste to railcars fueled by bio-diesel near the Hunters Point Power Plant site.

Examples of sustainable practices include reduced vehicle idling, strategic staging and placement of trucks and construction equipment to reduce localized emissions, and increased use of onsite remediation alternatives to reduce trucking activity and landfill disposal.

Applying the guidance has led to measurable reductions in environmental and community impacts while supporting local economic vitality through use of local vendors and labor. Overall, in 2012, these practices helped to reduce PG&E’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 8,900 metric tons, reduce liquid wastes by an estimated 8 million gallons and add more than $40 million to the local economies near our remediation projects.