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PG&E wants safety benchmarks

Sept. 30, 2010 at 9:57 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Benchmarks for safety and testing for pipeline operators should be considered by regulatory authorities, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. told U.S. lawmakers.

A natural gas pipeline burst Sept. 9, sparking a massive fireball that ripped through a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood. The explosion killed seven people and destroyed 37 homes. Authorities say they believe internal corrosion may have lead to the failure of the pipeline.

PG&E President Chris Johns told a U.S. Senate panel on pipeline safety that additional safety and testing benchmarks warranted "additional discussion" by pipeline regulators.

Johns, whose company is responsible for the San Bruno pipeline, said that until the California Public Utilities Commission, Congress and the National Transportation Safety Board conclude their investigations, however, his company can't speculate about the causes of the accident.

"We are all committed to identifying and learning from the root cause or causes of the tragic events in San Bruno," he said. "Once the causes are understood, Congress, the CPUC, our industry and others can take what has been learned to improve policies, procedures and best practices."

PG&E compiled a list of 100 high-risk pipeline sections, though the San Bruno line wasn't on that list.

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