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Boxer and Feinstein ask federal regulators to order inspection of gas pipelines

September 13, 2010 |  2:56 pm

California's senators called Monday on federal regulators to order inspections of all interstate natural gas pipelines in the state, with a priority on those that run near residential areas.

In a letter to the administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote: "Californians must feel confident that their communities are safe and that the regulatory agencies responsible for maintaining natural gas pipelines are doing everything possible to guarantee their safety. It is critical that the public's confidence is restored and that utilities are held accountable for the safety of their pipelines."

The senators noted that there are 1,508 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines in the state under the jurisdiction of federal regulators. The California Public Utilities Commission, which supervises intrastate pipelines, like the one that exploded Thursday in San Bruno, plans to order Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to reinspect its natural gas network.

The company has already completed a leak survey of all three transmission lines that run through the San Francisco peninsula and is preparing to work with the state utilities commission to devise a plan to inspect the remainder of its 5,724 miles of transmission lines.

A pipeline running 51.5 miles from Milpitas to San Francisco through San Bruno ruptured Thursday, sending a plume of flames shooting into the air and killing at least four people.

Boxer and Feinstein, who have toured the heavily damaged Crestmoor neighborhood, asked federal pipeline regulators to provide a list of cities and counties in California where these pipelines are located, dates of installation and upgrades of pipelines, and a schedule of past and future inspections to make sure the pipelines are being maintained properly.

-- John Hoeffel in San Bruno