On the orders of state regulators, PG&E on Thursday will begin digging up an abandoned section of pipe that was originally part of the doomed gas line that blew up last year in San Bruno.

The stretch of pipe, laid in 1948 in the neighborhood later ravaged by the Sept. 9, 2010, explosion, has sat inactive in the ground since the mid-1950s, when the line was relocated, according to Pacific Gas & Electric.

As the California Public Utilities Commission investigates the blast that killed eight people and leveled much of a neighborhood, officials with the agency have told PG&E to unearth the decommissioned pipe.

The quality of the pipe and particularly its welds have come under intense scrutiny since it was revealed the section of line that blew up had shoddy welds. Federal investigators have said the pipe tore open along one of its welded seams.

The stretch of line will be turned over to commission investigators, PG&E spokeswoman Brittany Chord said Wednesday night.

She said she wasn't sure why they want it.

Commission officials were unavailable for comment late Wednesday.

San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson told fire survivors assembled for a meeting Wednesday night that the excavation of the pipe is part of the commission's probe of the blast.


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The primary investigation of the disaster is headed by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is expected to issue its findings before the one-year anniversary of the explosion.

The work to dig up the line is slated to start at 8 a.m. and last two days, Chord said. Crews know where the pipe is buried and will work at two spots just to the north of the blast crater.

The digging will be done in the roadway.

Jackson also announced Wednesday that the hole left by the explosion will be filled in by early August.

The city has left the 72-foot-long, 26-foot-wide crater open for investigators who had requested access to it.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.