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PG&E Record Under Scrutiny After Tests

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 8 (UPI) — While pressure testing of gas pipelines in California found defects, it’s troubling the pipelines are rupturing with such great frequency, a lawmaker said.

Officials at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said they suspected existing damage to a gas pipeline near Woodside, Calif., likely was to blame for a rupture that triggered a landslide last weekend.

Paul Clanon, executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission, was quoted by the San Jose Mercury News as saying the agency was baffled by the frequency of pipeline breaks but felt comfortable that testing was providing results.

“This is a line that had a weakness that was previously undetected and can now be fixed,” he said.

PG&E was using water to test the pressure on its gas pipeline. In late October, a natural gas pipeline failed along a weld seam during pressure testing by PG&E, leaving a large crater in a field.

A Sept. 9, 2010, explosion on a PG&E pipeline caused a fireball in a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood that left eight people dead and 38 homes destroyed.

California state Rep. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said that, given PG&E’s record, he wanted to verify the company’s records before the pipelines start carrying natural gas.

“I certainly want to make sure that we’ve checked and double checked those records,” he said.

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