Thursday, April 21, 2011

PG&E says its inaccurate records did not lead to San Bruno blast

SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno would have happened even if Pacific Gas and Electric Co. had kept accurate records of the line, the company told state regulators on April 19.

The rupture on the 30-inch transmission line that caused the Sept. 9 explosion took place at an incomplete weld on a pipe seam, metallurgists with the National Transportation Safety Board have concluded. PG&E's records showed that the pipe had no seams, and it never conducted inspections that might have detected a flawed seam weld.

However, the type of weld that ruptured does not have a record of failing, PG&E told the state Public Utilities Commission. As a result, it said, the company still would have picked an inspection technique best suited for finding the problem that PG&E considered the greatest threat to the line - corrosion - and not flawed welds.

"The question becomes whether the correct seam type information ... would have changed PG&E's assessment methodology" and "potentially prevented the Sept. 9, 2010, San Bruno pipeline rupture," the company said. "The short answer to that question is 'no.' "

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