The Cause Of The San Bruno Blast
San Bruno, CA – Widely used industry estimates of the safety of 3600 miles of gas line have been called into question as experts pore over the debris created by the tremendous San Bruno gas line explosion.
A 28 foot section of ruptured pipe that was removed and sent to Ashburn, Va. for testing is revealing clues into what caused the 30 inch diameter gas pipe to rupture.
Gas Line Showed Signs Of Weakness
The section of pipe shows signs that the pipe had become brittle over time. The blast point happened at a dip in the pipe leading investigators to believe it was subject to increased corrosion from accumulated water and sewage in the area.
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North Bay PG&E Fire Lawsuits
The force that was unleashed by the explosion would exceed the thrust of the space shuttle at launch. The fireball that resulted from the pipeline rupture destroyed 55 homes and killed 8 residents.
California has thousands of miles of pipeline under heavily populated areas. Nearly half of the pipeline in the country was installed between 1950 and 1970.
The natural gas industry has developed mathematical models to help predict which pipelines are most at risk and should be replaced. The accuracy of those models is now being called into question as the section that failed did not show up on the list of the 100 top safety priorities.
Similarities Exist Between Two Gas Line Explosions
There are similarities between the San Bruno gas line explosion and a similar explosion in 2000 near the Pecos River in rural New Mexico. Both occurred in a dip in the terrain. It was that explosion, in 2000 that triggered an overhaul of Pipeline Safety Regulations.
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has shipped three sections of pipe from the San Bruno Blast to the Ashburn lab where metallurgists and analysts will examine them for clues to the explosion.
It was revealed during the investigation that a sewer line that ran under the pipeline was replaced in 2007 and 2008 using a process called “pipe bursting.” This could have added to the deterioration of the gas line.
PG&E officials continue to say that the pipeline underwent several inspections in the 12 months prior to the explosion and showed no signs of weakness. The tools used by the oil and gas industry are now being called into question as to whether they can reliably predict pipeline safety.
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