Pipeline disaster looms?

PG&E identifies 239 pipelines at risk of failure

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has identified 239 pipelines at risk of failure similar to the San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people two years ago.

A PG&E assessment found more than 500 potentially troublesome sections on the pipelines ranging in length from a few feet to more than a mile, according to SFGate.com. Each of the sections have pipe-seam welds weakened by age or because PG&E pressurized the pipes beyond legal limits. In response, the company plans to replace or test the lines with high water pressure, though it maintains there are some over-pressurized lines that don’t require such precaution.

Critics point out that PG&E is obligated to hydro-test all over-pressurized lines, according to federal law. “PG&E is clearly misinterpreting the regulations, which are fairly clear,” said Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline safety expert. “You have to inspect all the lines that qualify. You can’t pick and choose.”