Six Urgent NTSB Recommendations Based on San Bruno Case

The board also agreed to hold a fact-finding hearing about the case March 1-2.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued six urgent safety recommendations Monday that are based on what it knows at this point about the San Bruno pipeline explosion, which killed eight people in San Bruno, Calif., Sept. 9, 2010. Two of them were issued to the utility, Pacific Gas & Electric; one to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; and three to the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E’s pipeline operations and other intrastate pipeline operations in California.

The board said the recommendations concern recordkeeping problems "that could create conditions in which a pipeline is operated at a higher pressure than the pipe was built to withstand, although it is not known at this time if that is what happened in the San Bruno accident."

Last month, the board's investigators said they had found in PG&E records that the ruptured portion of the pipeline was listed as being constructed of seamless pipe, where it actually was made at least partly of longitudinal seam-welded pipe, with some of the seams welded from both inside and outside of the pipe. Some seams were welded from the outside only.

The board's statement said NTSB is concerned the seam-welded sections may not be as strong as the seamless pipe that was indicated in the utility's records.

"Because it is critical to consider all of the characteristics of a pipeline in order to establish a safe maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP), the NTSB believes that these inaccurate records may lead to potentially unsafe MAOPs," the statement said.

To read the recommendations, visit www.ntsb.gov.

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