PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2017

Historic Impacts

PG&E’s environmental commitment extends to our environmental remediation program, which addresses contamination resulting from the historic operations of Pacific Gas and Electric Company and its predecessor companies dating as far back as the mid- to late-1800s. PG&E’s overarching goal is to clean up historic impacts by using leading-edge technical approaches and best practices for engaging local stakeholders and suppliers.

Our Approach

PG&E’s commitment to environmental stewardship, safety and customer service is reflected in our work. Our sustainable remediation practices and technologies focus on minimizing impacts to the environment and community to the greatest extent possible. We have implemented our guidance for sustainable remediation, prepared and piloted with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

Stakeholder engagement is an important component of these efforts. We regularly communicate with local businesses, community leaders and residents to promote awareness, solicit feedback and develop strategies to minimize disruptions during the cleanup process. In addition, we partner on initiatives that serve the community, including local hiring and sourcing of goods and services to support the local economy.

We also share best practices and benchmark our efforts against other energy companies and industries, including through the MGP Consortium, a peer group of environmental remediation experts from gas providers across the nation.

2016 Milestones

Natural Gas Compressor Stations

PG&E’s natural gas system includes eight compressor stations that receive and move natural gas throughout our gas infrastructure. During the 1950s and 1960s, long before the environmental standards to which we adhere today, PG&E used hexavalent chromium to prevent rust in cooling towers at the Topock and Hinkley compressor stations—a common industry practice at the time. These operations resulted in groundwater contamination, and PG&E continues working diligently under the oversight of state and federal agencies and in coordination with local Native American tribal governments to address these legacy impacts.

At the Topock Compressor Station, we conducted soil investigation work in and around the compressor station property after years of planning and review with regulators and tribes. The information gathered will be used to determine what soil cleanup work may be needed in the future.

We also submitted final plans for a long-term groundwater cleanup plan at the Topock site. The final remedy is expected to be approved by DTSC and the U.S. Department of the Interior in late 2017. While the long-term groundwater remedy is being finalized, we continued operations of interim groundwater measures, which operate around the clock to ensure that the Colorado River is protected from impacts. Built in 2005, the system has successfully controlled groundwater contamination, treating more than 660 million gallons of groundwater and removing more than 8,000 pounds of chromium.

PG&E also remains committed to protecting public health and safety while remediating the environment and responding to community concerns at the Hinkley Compressor Station. Through 2016, we estimate that approximately 50 percent of the chromium present in the groundwater has been remediated.

We also continue to work with community stakeholders to improve our local presence in the Hinkley community and support community investment priorities focusing on youth, health and wellness, education and workforce development.

Manufactured Gas Plant Sites

In the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, before natural gas was available as an energy source, thousands of Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) sites were located 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 facilities were closed and the properties put to other uses. We continue to make progress with remediation at 41 MGPs owned or operated by PG&E or its predecessor companies. The following example reflects how the work is being done in a manner that respects the local community:

  • Keeping our neighbors informed in San Luis Obispo. As part of the cleanup of an MGP site in San Luis Obispo, PG&E provided briefings to various stakeholders prior to the work starting and continues to provide regular updates to keep stakeholders informed of the work and potential impacts.

Additional Environmental Remediation Projects

PG&E’s commitment to community partnerships and sustainable principles, practices and technologies was evident at other remediation projects and activities in 2016, including:

  • Opened Hunters Point Power Plant shoreline. PG&E began completion of the final phase of work at the former Hunters Point Power Plant in 2016—the cleanup and restoration of a shoreline area that stretches from Heron’s Head to India Basin Park. PG&E worked with the City of San Francisco’s CityBuild program so that 36 percent of our laborer/operator workforce on the project was hired locally. These individuals worked over 17,000 hours, which included several upgrades to the shoreline trail to increase accessibility and recreational opportunities.
  • Continued underground storage tank cleanup. PG&E historically operated over 1,400 underground storage tanks at approximately 400 locations in California. Over the last 50 years, a variety of factors has resulted in the physical closure (removal or abandonment in place) of the majority of the tanks. Of these locations, only a small number required remediation, and the closure of the final location and portfolio is expected in 2017.
  • Tested sustainable cleanup options in Bay Point. Now owned by PG&E, this site in Bay Point is home to a 73-acre former wastewater treatment pond, known as Shell Pond, built and operated by Shell Oil. In July 2016, PG&E began a yearlong pilot study to determine what mixture of compost and plants is most effective at breaking down or trapping material found at the bottom of Shell Pond. This “green” technology, called phytoremediation, treats waste and has been successfully used throughout the world.

Measuring Progress

Sustainable Remediation

In 2016, we tracked the benefits of sustainable practices gathered from more than 97 remediation sites, which included:

  • Using heavy construction and remediation equipment meeting Tier 3 and Tier 4 federal emission standards, reflecting the highest standards in the industry,
  • Using construction and remediation equipment augmented to further minimize emissions,
  • Using alternative fuels and renewable sources of energy for equipment and vehicles, and
  • Maximizing recycling, on-site reuse of materials and reductions in liquid and soil wastes generated during remediation.

Through these efforts, PG&E reduced cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5,700 metric tons and reduced liquid wastes by an estimated 3.6 million gallons. PG&E also added more than $9.5 million to the local economies near our project sites, through a concentrated effort on identifying qualified local vendors.

Looking Ahead

PG&E will continue to address any environmental impacts related to our past operations and work closely with regulators and community members as we make progress on our cleanup plans. In 2017, we expect to complete the Hunters Point project in San Francisco and MGP cleanups in Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Red Bluff and San Rafael. We will also continue to explore and implement innovative remediation strategies, such as our second use of a negative-pressure tent enclosure in Eureka to effectively manage air quality for our neighbors.