Woodside Pipeline Likely Hit by Backhoe: PG&E

Pipeline burst during test, spewed water and mud onto I-280.

Monday, Nov 7, 2011  |  Updated 12:46 PM PDT
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Woodside Pipeline Likely Hit by Backhoe: PG&E

NBC Bay Area

Crews made fast work of replacing the line that burst during a pressure test Sunday.

A PG&E natural gas pipeline that exploded during pressure testing  on Sunday afternoon, causing a mudslide across Interstate Highway 280 in  Woodside, was likely damaged by a backhoe, a utility spokesman said.

    PG&E crews this morning were determining how to extract and  replace the damaged section of Line 132, which ruptured during hydrostatic  testing on a knoll above Highway 280 near Farm Hill Boulevard at about 3:20  p.m., PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer said.     A preliminary investigation indicated that the section of pipe  that ruptured had been damaged by a backhoe sometime after the line was  installed in 1947. PG&E is looking into when that damage might have occurred  and what agency might have been responsible, Eisenhauer said.
    The explosion left a 5-foot-by-5-foot crater in the hillside, and  water from inside the pipeline caused a mudslide that reached northbound  Highway 280 and blocked two lanes for about four hours, California Highway  Patrol Officer Art Montiel said
    No one was injured.
    The test was being conducted as part of an ongoing safety  evaluation of natural gas transmission lines in "high consequence" or highly  populated areas, Eisenhauer said.
    "That's exactly why we do these type of safety tests, to find  weaknesses in the pipeline," Eisenhauer said.
    PG&E crews have conducted pressure tests on more than 120 miles of  pipeline since April.
    Eisenhauer said no homes or buildings were damaged by Sunday's  rupture, and that the utility employs different testing strategies on  pipelines that run directly through neighborhoods, such as placing cameras or  "pigs" that run inside the pipes to detect corrosion or faulty seams.
    Last week, PG&E found a 1-millimeter leak in Line 132 in Palo  Alto, and last month a line ruptured in Bakersfield during hydrostatic  testing.
    A faulty seam on Line 132 ruptured in San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010,  causing an explosion that killed eight people and damaged 38 homes.

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