Test ensures pipeline safety after Patterson gas leak

09/26/2013 1:05 PM

09/26/2013 6:09 PM

Crews from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on Thursday tested a repaired pipeline after a gas leak in the parking lot of the Amazon distribution center in Patterson the day before.

The two-hour test was designed to ensure the safety of the pipe “out of an abundance of caution,” PG&E spokeswoman Nicole Liebelt said.

Wednesday morning, the leak sprung just before 7 a.m., lifting part of the asphalt parking lot. Authorities evacuated the Amazon center, where workers are preparing for the official opening. PG&E got the gas shut off by about 8 a.m. and employees were allowed to return to work by 11 a.m.

PG&E crews stayed on the scene until about 5 p.m. Repairs were complicated by the fact the pipeline is in a space shared with other utility providers, which had to be notified.

The pipes in the area are new, installed specifically to serve the 1million-square-foot distribution center, which is expected to employ hundreds of people when it opens next month.

“The fuse should not have failed,” Liebelt said. Thursday’s test involved pushing air through the pipes at the maximum pressure allowed for two hours.

“If it’s going to fail, it’s going to fail when it’s at the maximum operational pressure,” Liebelt said. The test left the distribution center without gas service for most of the business day, but Liebelt said that wasn’t a major concern. Gas is mainly used for heat, and it wasn’t terribly cold Thursday.

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