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Pipeline Hearing Exposes PG&E Concerns About Nearby Sewer Project

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A firefighter is seen running as a massive fire roars through a San Bruno neighborhood. (AP)

A firefighter is seen running as a massive fire roars through a San Bruno neighborhood. (AP)

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SAN BRUNO (KCBS) – New documents released during a federal hearing on the San Bruno pipeline explosion show a Pacific Gas and Electric inspector had concerns about a sewer line project located directly below the ruptured line.

The inspector told superiors at PG&E that a sewer line installed in 2008 without his direct supervision was closer to the 30-inch gas line than he preferred.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

The utility was concerned about the ground shaking caused during the installation, according to the Bay Area News Group which reviewed some of the documents that became public Wednesday during a 3-day hearing by the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington D.C.

It’s still unclear whether the sewer project created any volatility that would have compromised what investigators now say are bad welds on the ruptured line, said Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert who is following the NTSB hearing.

“Obviously the closer you get to a pipeline, certain forces become more concentrated,” he said.

“It’s just too early to say.”

The documents show the contractor disputes PG&E’s claim, saying the inspector was on site and decided that the work “seemed to be OK.”

The California Public Utilities Commission is also investigating whether the sewer work may have contributed to the Sept. 9 explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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