Anniversary of San Bruno explosion approaching

FILE - In this Sept. 9, 2010 file photo, a massive fire roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, California.
September 4, 2012 8:41:08 PM PDT
The two-year anniversary of the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion is this Sunday. Assm. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, San Bruno's mayor and blast survivors gathered Tuesday for a progress report on legislation and the neighborhood.

Eight of the 38 homes destroyed by fire have been rebuilt; 13 more are in the works. PG&E owns three lots and the city owns five, it's uncertain what will happen with those and the remainder.

"What we're going to do going forward, we're still not sure; might be open space, maybe some building on it, but we just wanted to get out those out of PG&E's hands," Mayor Jim Ruane said.

There is a tug-of-war between wanting to move on and wanting to never forget.

"Eight people died, eight people died here right where you're standing," Ruane said.

"I don't trust anybody anymore," survivor Kathy De Renzi said. "Like PG&E, I used to trust them and I used to walk over those little yellow dots and think nothing of it. Now I see one of their trucks and unfortunately I just can't even look at them."

The disaster revealed a long history of safety lapses at PG&E. A number of legislative reforms have been made since the explosion. Hill has three bills waiting for the governor's signature; all of them would require the California Public Utilities Commission to take greater responsibility in holding PG&E accountable for its safety performance.

"It's all of our responsibility to hold PG&E and the Public Utilities Commission and lawmakers accountable for ensuring the safety of gas pipelines that run beneath our homes," Hill said.

PG&E says it has no position on any of Hill's bills, but is making changes under the leadership of new CEO Tony Earley.

"Our end goal is to become one of the safest operators in the nation," PG&E spokesperson Britany Chord said. "We know we have a long way to go until we get there, but we won't stop until we get there."

"I think they're moving in the right direction, but they've lost their way before and they lost their way for about the last 20 years; we want to make sure they don't lose their way again," survivor Bill Magoolaghan said.

While it is too late for this community, they want to continue pressure to prevent something similar from happening elsewhere.


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