PG&E raised pipeline pressure to legal limit

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (AP) — The utility company responsible for the gas pipeline that exploded in a San Francisco suburb last year has acknowledged that it briefly raised the pressure on the pipeline to the legal limit two years before the fatal blast.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Pacific Gas and Electric officials say the company raised the pressure on the line to 400 pounds per square inch for two hours on Dec. 9, 2008.

Officials with PG&E told the newspaper that the artificial spike was “part of our operating practice.”

Experts told the Chronicle that the increase in pressure could have placed a strain on the pipeline that made it more vulnerable to failure. The company said it believed that the 400 pounds per square inch was a “very safe level.”

The September blast leveled 38 homes and killed eight people.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle

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