Residents question who is paying for cleanup

September 24, 2010 7:49:52 PM PDT
Demolition and clean-up is continuing Friday in San Bruno, though there are questions about how it will all get paid for.

San Mateo County Department of Environmental Health is in charge of getting what is left of the destroyed homes demolished and cleaning up the sites. There are strict environmental regulations for how potentially toxic sites like these are cleaned up, removed and the materials disposed of.

The county says the price tag for all 35 destroyed homes is estimated between $1.75 million and $2 million, or nearly $60,000 per property on the high end.

County Environmental Health Director Dean Peterson says his sole assignment is getting the sites cleaned up, not getting the funding, but he believes homeowners insurance will be the first source, after that, the county will look to "other options for funding."

"Ultimately, the property owner is, retains responsibility for clean up of their own personal site," City Manager Connie Jackson said.

That is what worries Bob Pellegrini, whose Claremont home was destroyed. He will not sign on to the county plan until he is confident he will not have to foot the bill. He thinks PG&E should pay, but he says the contract he has being asked to sign leaves open the possibility he could have to foot the bill.

The work is expected to take three to four weeks, but no firm deadline has been set. Officals hope the work will be done before the rainy season starts to avoid having to deal with potentially hazardous runoff.

Next week, Washington will be taking a closer look at what happened in San Bruno. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., will introduce legislation that will mandate disclosure of pipeline locations to homeowners. Also, the representatives from the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E and San Bruno's mayor are scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.


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