Pipeline Safety – A Lesson In Managing Information


The following is an excerpt from the article “A Passion for the Profession – Alison North” from the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) publication “Information Management” from March/April 2017 (page 29). It is important because it depicts what E*Doc, the controlled document management solution from AIS Software was created to prevent.  Had E*Doc been in place and in use, this situation may not have happened.

“AT 6:11 p.m. on September 9, 2010, in San Bruno, Calif, a 30-inch diameter steel natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) exploded so violently that first responders and media initially thought it to be an earthquake or airplane crash.  Eight people died, with many more injured or severely burned and upwards of 40 homes destroyed.

“After a lengthy investigation, federal authorities reported finding several defective welds in the pipeline.  As PG&E had increased the pressure in the pipes – installed in 1956 – to meet the growing energy demand, the defective welds were further weakened until they failed, with tragic results.

“The news got worse. The investigation found that PG&E didn’t have the records to identify with any certainty what exactly it had running underground.

“Because of her solid reputation as an expert in records retention and disposition and the fact that she was unaffiliated with PG&E, Alison North was called in by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2011 as an expert in the initial recordkeeping case.

“In this case, the engineers managed and used information that was split across many sites.  North’s assessment was that the control was badly managed by the business, and accountability was lacking.  There was much blame to go around, but these combined into tragic lessons learned from an information management perspective.”

E*Doc is a document control application from AIS Software that provides centralized management of industrial infrastructure documents that require frequent revision control.  It provides a single point of truth for all of the important documents industry relies on for construction, operations and maintenance.

On November 25, 1998 six coworkers and close friends of ours were killed in an industrial accident that could have been prevented had the right information been made available to the right people at the right time.  This accident was the genesis of AIS Software and the reason for its software solutions that provide accurate and timely information to all workers at any time and on any device thereby saving time, money and lives.