Gas Pipeline Feeding Bay Area Ruptures During PG&E Pressure Test

BAKERSFIELD (CBS SF) – PG&E crews were working to replace a damaged section of gas transmission pipeline that ruptured during a pressure test in the Bakersfield area on Monday, a utility spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The blast occurred around 9 a.m. on a one-mile section of Line 300 B, which carries natural gas to the Bay Area from the California-Arizona border, PG&E spokeswoman Brittany Chord said.

PG&E crews were conducting a hydrostatic pressure test on the 34-inch line, which was installed in 1950 and lies in an alfalfa field outside Bakersfield in Kern County, Chord said. The line ends in Milpitas.

A longitudinal weld failed and ruptured during the test, causing a blast that exposed a portion of the pipe, Chord said.

No one was injured, she said.

Crews immediately began work to remove the damaged section and replace it with new pipeline, Chord said.

The work was expected to be completed by Wednesday, and PG&E planned to conduct a series of pressure tests on the new pipeline on Thursday.

No PG&E customers were affected by the testing, which requires that sections of pipeline be temporarily taken out of service.

On Sept. 9, 2010, a section of pipeline ruptured and exploded in a residential neighborhood in San Bruno, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.

Since April, PG&E has conducted more than 60 tests on 120 miles of pipeline to ensure the safety of its pipeline system, Chord said.

The rupture on Monday was the first weakness to be exposed by the pressure testing, Chord said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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