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Utility can’t find key gas records, official says

Associated Press / January 29, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO — The utility operating a pipeline that exploded in a San Francisco suburb cannot find key records needed to set safe pressures for nearly a third of its gas transmission lines, a congresswoman said.

Representative Jackie Speier said Pacific Gas & Electric Co. president Chris Johns told her his staff can’t find the manufacturing and installation documents for the lines in urban areas, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

PG&E and other utilities across the state are under orders by regulators to produce the documents.

PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson did not immediately confirm or deny the congresswoman’s comments.

In December, PG&E disclosed it had inaccurate documents about the pipeline that exploded in San Bruno on Sept. 9, sparking a gigantic fireball that killed eight people and destroyed about three dozen homes.

Officials have not determined an exact cause but suspect the pipeline may have burst under high pressure.

The California Public Utilities Commission has ordered all state utilities to present reliable records for transmission lines by March 15.

Commission President Michael Peevey said he would ask his fellow commissioners to vote on holding a public investigation into the San Bruno explosion.

The proceeding could include fact-finding hearings and the creation of a clearinghouse for all San Bruno-related documents.

Peevey’s announcement came a day after San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, state Senator Mark Leno, The Utility Reform Network, and the Consumer Federation of California said state investigators were operating largely in private.

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