Bill clamps down on California pipelines

Sept. 23, 2010 at 9:25 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- A bill sponsored by California lawmakers calls for federal standards for leak detection devices on natural gas pipelines in response to a gas explosion.

A gas pipeline in San Bruno, Calif., ruptured Sept. 9, causing a huge fireball to rip through the district. The explosion killed seven people and destroyed 37 homes.

U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sponsored a 23-page bill that requires the installation of automatic pipeline valves, inspection devices and federal standards for leak detection, an announcement on Feinstein's Web site stated.

"The pipeline explosion in San Bruno was a tragedy that must never occur again in any American neighborhood," said Feinstein in a statement. "The American people must be assured that the pipelines that crisscross the nation and run beneath their streets are safe."

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the utility responsible for the San Bruno pipeline, released a list of 100 high-risk pipeline sections. The San Bruno line wasn't on that list.

The Feinstein-Boxer bill also called for tighter oversight for older pipelines that are near areas prone to earthquakes.

Even though PG&E warned it would have trouble delivering gas to area residents during cold weather, state regulators have ordered the company to reduce the line pressure of its California lines by 20 percent.

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