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PG&E to host hearing today on Palo Alto pipeline testing

Company to discuss its plans to test a gas-transmission pipeline in the coming weeks

Pacific Gas & Electric Company is planning to conduct a series of tests on a major gas-transmission pipeline in Palo Alto -- Line 132 -- over the next two weeks, a project that is slated to involve excavation, venting and hydrostatic testing, according to company officials.

PG&E officials are scheduled to discuss the project at a public meeting tonight (Wednesday, July 13) at El Carmelo Elementary School, 3024 Bryant St. The meeting will take place between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

According to a letter PG&E sent Friday to property owners near the pipeline, the project will involve sending water through the pipeline at a much greater pressure than it would ever operate with natural gas. Residents could expect to see some traffic detours and smell gas while the testing is occurring.

PG&E officials said the test will "validate a safe operating pressure for the pipeline and can also reveal weaknesses that could lead to defects and leaks." They said in the letter that the "situation is safe" and that the pipeline will be "cleared of gas utilizing a safe and common technique."

"If the pipe section does not meet acceptable standards during the test, it will be replaced with new pipe that has already passed a pressure test," PG&E's letter stated.

PG&E has been facing heavy scrutiny over the safety of its pipelines since Sept. 9, 2010, when a gas explosion in San Bruno killed seven people and destroyed 37 homes. A portion of Line 132 ran next to the explosion site.

In Palo Alto, the line roughly follows Interstate 280 and travels east along Page Mill Road and south along Alma, Waverley and Cowper streets and El Carmelo Avenue.

Related material:

Stanford gas line on PG&E 'Top 100' risk list

Gennady Sheyner

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