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San Bruno blast victims press for open hearings

October 11, 2012 6:38:32 PM PDT
Victims of the San Bruno pipeline explosion lashed out at state regulators on Thursday. In particular, they criticized CPUC president Michael Peevey for supporting a delay in penalty hearings against PG&E.

It's been more than two years since the San Bruno pipeline explosion and there have been a number of investigations and reports from a variety of agencies. Some victims have settled civil suits, others are scheduled to go to trial in January.

However, the CPUC has not yet decided how much PG&E should be fined for violations related to the San Bruno accident. Cross-examination of PG&E witnesses in those penalty hearings was supposed to happen this week, but that's now delayed, possibly canceled altogether, to concentrate on a settlement instead. On Thursday San Bruno residents told the CPUC what they think of that.

"After learning about this week where the hearings have been pulled from the public eye, it makes me sick," said San Bruno resident Kathy Di Renzi.

Renee Morales' daughter, Jessica, was killed in the fire.

"Going behind closed doors is not acceptable," said Morales.

Commission president Michael Peevey blasted back.

"I do think that all of you who are connected to or care about San Bruno are deserving of a comment by me and I'm going to give it to you right now," said Peevey.

Peevey said he thinks the delay is misunderstood, that all the facts have already come out in a damning CPUC report, and that any proposed settlement would indeed have a public hearing.

"Justice might be done in this case six months sooner than it might be otherwise. Then the engineers and safety professionals in those hearing rooms now consumed with this can go back in the field and focus on safety," said Peevey.

Morales would rather have the cross-examination.

"Part of the healing process is seeing justice. That's part of the healing process and having everything, all the information up front so we can make our own determinations," said Morales.

An administrative law judge will decide any day now whether to resume the hearings immediately or let PG&E and the CPUC focus solely on penalty settlement talks instead.


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