PG&E gas pipeline repair already facing delay

A 24-inch gas pipeline being tested on by utility workers ruptured Sunday afternoon, causing a significant mudslide on nearby Interstate 280.

November 7, 2011 2:29:16 PM PST
There is a delay to repair PG&E pipeline 132 that ruptured during a hydrostatic test in Woodside on Sunday. The reason is access to the knoll overlooking Highway 280 for heavy equipment to excavate around the pipe to remove the two-foot long damaged section and to replace it. PG&E is working with property owners to get that access, so nothing can be done Monday. Work is expected to start early Tuesday and might take more than a day.

In the meantime, California Public Utilities Commission Executive Director Paul Clanon is on site to inspect the damage. He said that the pressure testing on line 132 worked precisely the way it is supposed to do. The rupture, which caused a rockslide and some flooding in the northbound lanes of 280 around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, happened when PG&E engineers and outside consultants were testing the line with water at 500 PSI. The normal amount of gas pressure is 370 PSI.

PG&E spokesperson David Eisenhauer said that crews discovered a nick at the failure spot, which might have been caused by equipment working in the area. Line 132 is buried in a PG&E easement between a residential area and the freeway. The line was installed in 1947. It is the same pipeline that caused the catastrophic explosion and fire in San Bruno last year. A pinhole defect was also discovered a few weeks ago during testing in the Stanford area.

The testing on line 132 will continue into next year with 12 more miles to undergo pressure tests. The natural gas is running on backup lines at 20 percent reduced pressure during the testing process.

Clanon said pressure on line 132 won't be restored until all of the testing has been completed and reviewed and after public hearings. That could become an issue in the winter months ahead when demand for natural gas peaks for home heating.

We are also talking to lawmakers this afternoon, who have been among PG&E's staunchest critics. We'll have live reports coming up on ABC7 News at 4 and 5 p.m.