San Bruno Accident and PG&E’s Ongoing Response

The Accident and Investigations into the Cause

On September 9, 2010, an underground 30-inch natural gas transmission pipeline (Line 132) owned and operated by PG&E ruptured in a residential neighborhood in San Bruno, California. The ensuing explosion and fire claimed eight lives, seriously injured many more and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes.

Since the San Bruno tragedy, PG&E has made a priority of cooperating with the resulting investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal government agency, as well as the parallel investigation being conducted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Along with the NTSB and CPUC, we support and share the goal of arriving at a root cause of the accident.

As a party to the NTSB’s investigation, PG&E has provided relevant documentation on our gas system, made employees available for interviews, offered our expertise and perspective on gas-related matters and testified at the safety board’s three-day fact-finding hearing into the San Bruno accident.

On August 30, 2011, the NTSB conducted a second hearing in which it announced its findings from its investigation. The Board’s discussion cited specific past PG&E practices on many fronts, including pipeline construction, testing, record-keeping practices, control room procedures, integrity management and emergency procedures. Additionally, the NTSB’s investigation noted an organization and culture that was not sufficiently focused on public safety.

PG&E fully embraces the recommendations of the NTSB and will incorporate them into our plans.

The CPUC’s parallel investigation is examining PG&E’s pipeline recordkeeping to determine if PG&E’s records and their use provided for the required level of safety in operating our gas transmission system. We continue to gather, centralize and scan our gas pipeline records, which we have used to inform both the investigation and the Order Instituting Rulemaking, which is discussed in the Transforming our Gas Business section. A final decision on the investigation is expected in 2012.

The CPUC also commissioned an independent panel to look into PG&E’s gas system and practices and provide their findings and recommendations. PG&E welcomed the Independent Review Panel’s final report, which was critical of the company and identified many areas for improvement. We are working to implement changes in our business for enhancing the safety, quality and performance of our gas system.

The impact of the San Bruno accident continues to be felt in San Bruno and at PG&E. The information presented here on the accident and our ongoing response is in no way meant to minimize the magnitude of the tragedy. Instead, it is to provide stakeholders with an update on the lessons we’ve learned and the steps we've taken to ensure a tragedy like the one in San Bruno never happens again.


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