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CA GAS LINES: PG&E wants OK for substandard test by contractor – SF Chronicle

September 15, 2011

As PG&E workers continue to place distribution lines near the San Bruno blast site, the utility is under fire for a substandard testing method on a major line in Southern California.

PG&E wants OK for substandard test by contractor

Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. relied on a substandard testing method to vouch for the safety of a major natural-gas transmission station, and now wants regulators to accept the procedure and allow the company to restore full pressure this winter to pipelines providing Northern and Central California with much of its gas.

If state regulators reject the request at a hearing scheduled for Monday, natural-gas levels for millions of Californians in PG&E’s service area could be jeopardized as winter approaches and temperatures drop.

At issue is the safety of the Topock compressor station near Needles (San Bernardino County), a funnel point for three major pipelines crossing from Arizona into California. Gas from the pipes is sent up the state via two parallel PG&E transmission lines, 300A and 300B, which run from Topock to a terminal in Milpitas.

Regulators ordered a 20 percent pressure cut on Line 300 in February after gas levels on one of the lines from Arizona surged, pushing pressures at the PG&E station beyond the legal limit.

By law, a pipeline operator must use high-pressure water or other methods to check for failed welds after such spikes.

via PG&E wants OK for substandard test by contractor.

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