Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

The massive <"">pipeline explosion that shot a fireball over 1,000 feet in the air and sent flames tearing across a California neighborhood is seeing its first class-action lawsuit. The horrific accident killed eight and devastated 37 homes and is being blamed on Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), said Mercury News, citing the lawsuit. Scores were injured and dozens of other homes were damaged. A power outage at the utility preceded the blast.

Now, Daniele DiTrapani, a resident of the San Bruno neighbored hit by the explosion just filed a lawsuit in the San Mateo County Superior Court for unspecified damages to be paid to him and others, said Mercury News. Another, prior, lawsuit filed September 17th, also by a San Bruno resident, is seeking to have the utility relinquish control of a $100 million victims fund to an independent third-party, noted Mercury News.

According to the lawsuit, DiTrapani was at home on September 9th, when the blast occurred; he “has been injured and suffered damages,” according to the lawsuit, quoted Mercury News.

This lawsuit is the second class-action against the utility in the days following the explosion and claims PG&E was negligent and that it was the utility’s actions or lack of action that caused the 30-inch pipe to explode, added Mercury News. The complaint also alleges that residents there have been “contaminated by debris, ash, (and) toxins” due to the blast and fire, according to lawsuit documents.

We recently wrote that an investigation into the explosion was focusing on work performed on a sewer near the ruptured line in 2008. According to the LA Times previously, the method used by the city to replace the sewer line is known to pose risks to nearby pipes.

Meanwhile, according to the lawsuit, cleanup timing remains unclear as does a timeframe for when San Bruno can return to a so-called “normal state,” quoted Mercury News. The lawsuit indicates that response and clean-up are estimated at over $10 million, with debris removal running about $2 million, noted Mercury News.

In response to the explosion, two US Democratic senators from California-Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer—just introduced a bill to impose more stringent pipeline safety standards, according to the LA Times previously. Speier also announced legislation to mandate pipeline operators nationwide equip lines with an automatic shut-off, said Mercury News, noting that this technology would have reduced the San Bruno explosion’s ferocity.

As part of the bill, pipeline operators would also have to advise homeowners if they live in proximity to high-pressure gas mains, said Mercury News. The manual shut-off process took nearly two hours following the San Bruno explosion, according to PG&E, said Mercury News in an earlier report.

The Feinstein Boxer bill also mandates that automatic electronic valves replace current manual valves and that in-line inspection devices be installed, federal officials create standards for leak detection devices, federal inspector personnel be doubled, safety violation fines be increased, and older lines in seismic areas be prioritized, among other requirements, said the LA Times, previously.

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