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California | Peninsula | Environment & Forest Defense | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Infrastructure decay in San Bruno gas explosion
by repost
Monday Sep 13th, 2010 7:17 AM
Residents of the San Bruno neighborhood say that they had been complaining for weeks preceding the blast of a gas smell, but that nothing was done. Trained dogs have located a total of nine cadavers, but officials have yet to confirm they are human remains. The Nat'l Transportation Safety Board has taken over the investigation and told everybody else to shut up, a sign of a coverup for private profit PG&E. This sounds like a society in serious decay, a society that puts private profit utility companies before public need, a society that promotes blood for oil wars to maximize profits instead of clean energy to maximize human life. That society is capitalist USA; the profit motive is literally killing us. Now is the Hour for Public Power; abolish PG&E.
First, see previous article:"Gas line explosion in California kills four, injures dozens"
By Kevin Kearney, 11 September 2010, World Socialist Website at
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/sep2010/brun-s11.shtml

From: Evidence points to infrastructure decay in California gas explosion
By Kevin Kearney, 13 September 2010, World Socialist website at:
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/sep2010/expl-s13.shtml
Pertinent paragraphs:
The death toll from Thursday’s gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California has risen to seven, with six more still missing. At least sixty people have been injured, some critically.

As stunned residents begin to return home, information is emerging that points to infrastructure decay and neglect as elements in the tragedy. The pipeline near the explosion was categorized as “highest risk” because of its proximity to a highly populated area, but the more than 50-year-old pipeline was never replaced.

Three of the missing are members of the Bullis family—Greg Bullis, his teenage son William, and his elderly mother Lavonne. In a statement to Bay Area news outlet KGO, other members of the family expressed concern that local officials were deliberately covering up the number of dead and missing so as to diminish the impact of the disaster in the press. Trained dogs have located a total of nine cadavers, but officials have yet to confirm they are human remains.

The number of destroyed homes has been revised up to 40, while the number of severely damaged homes is in the hundreds.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a press conference in which its vice chairman Christopher Hart asserted complete control over the investigation. He told the press that his agency had ordered all subordinate entities not to reveal any information to the media, thereby shielding PG&E. According to local Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier, this investigation could take up to a year or more. [The Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, supports private profit utility companies, privatization of our schools with charter schools and privatization of everything else when our lives depend upon everything being public.]

Hart gave some more details on the blast, saying that a 28-foot piece of pipe was blown out of the ground and thrown one hundred feet from its original location, leaving a crater 167 feet long, 26 feet wide and of unknown depth.

Hart also corrected his earlier statement that the pipe was seamless and of a single piece, noting that it had many seams and welds. These included one running the entire length, along with several circumferential welds connecting it to smaller pieces of pipe. In response to an obvious concern that multiple welds could affect pipe integrity, Hart responded, “Maybe, maybe not.”

Nonetheless, the NTSB could not provide routine information such as the last time the line was inspected. PG&E spokesman Andrew Souvall would not verify when the section that ruptured the line had last been inspected.

The California Public Utilities Commission was also apprised of the danger posed by the pipeline and reportedly conducted some form of audit. According to Souvall, PG&E was planning on replacing the gas line mentioned as part of a larger infrastructure upgrade.

The San Bruno explosion focuses attention on the dangers from a maze of gas pipelines spanning tens of thousands of miles. According to the Wall Street Journal, investigators said PG&E was warned earlier this year that its emergency plans did not meet federal standards. State regulators told the company in 2008 that its poor handling of leak complaints had the potential to prevent or delay qualified personnel from correcting hazardous conditions.

The Journal also alluded to the broad nature of the risk, saying: “Federal officials have worried in recent years that maintenance spending may not be keeping up with deterioration.” This is certainly the case, and the San Bruno explosion is the clearest proof that yet another critical aspect of infrastructure is so poorly maintained and monitored that it has become a grave danger.

******
Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, Peace & Freedom Party and the Green Party support public power and using clean energy such as the wind, sun and water instead of oil. See
http://www.peaceandfreedom.org/home/
and
http://www.cagreens.org/
NOW IS THE HOUR FOR PUBLIC POWER; ABOLISH PG&E.



Comments  (Hide Comments)

by revolution2010
Monday Sep 13th, 2010 6:29 PM
If indeed this disaster was the result of inaction on PG&E's part (and it probably was - the day of the explosion, I was already hearing rumors that people were reporting gas smell in the area for at least a full week prior to the event), then PG&E will be "punished" just as BP was "punished" (not at all). This whole thing will be swept under the rug as best they can and what's left over will be a game of "Pass the Buck".

However, PG&E claims they will provide "up to" $100 million in support: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/13/BAMK1FD8A7.DTL&tsp=1 (at least, as reported in the increasingly right-leaning Chronicle).

Let's see how this turns out (though I think we all know the answer already).