Lawsuit Filed in California Gas Pipeline Explosion

The recent <"">gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California has prompted at least one lawsuit. Steve Dare, a resident of San Bruno, is now suing Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), wrote Mercury News. The lawsuit alleges ramifications from the explosion that took place on September 9th, wrote Mercury News.

The explosion shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet in the air, and sent fire tearing across several blocks. According to a CNN report, the blast sent concrete spewing; the heat from the flames melted taillights on cars blocks away from the blaze. The blast also killed at least four people, and three others were missing and presumed dead. About 60 people were injured, 56 homes were either severely damaged or destroyed, with fire damage estimated at $65 million.

Dare rents a home near the explosion, and although neither he nor his home were damaged, he was forced to evacuate for a number of days, reported Mercury News. The lawsuit was filed against PG&E in San Mateo County Superior Court and seeks damages for all residents affected by the pipeline explosion, added Mercury News. The class-action lawsuit also seeks creation of a fund for about $100 million, a figure pledged by the utility to assist victims, said Mercury News.

PG&E President, Chris Johns, also noted that PG&E presented San Bruno
Mayor, Jim Ruane, with $3 million to begin assisting with the costs involved in disaster response as well as to “rebuild the parks, rebuild the streets, rebuild the sidewalks,” quoted Mercury News, which noted that PG&E will also issue checks up to $50,000 to individual households involved in the accident.

We recently wrote that the investigation was focusing on work performed on a sewer near the ruptured line back in 2008. According to the Los Angeles Times, the method used by the city to replace the sewer line is known to pose risks to nearby pipes. It is not yet known what caused the PG&E 30-inch pipeline to rupture; however, Christopher Hart, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told the Los Angeles Times that the 2008 sewer project is among the factors investigators are looking at.

The work enlarged the diameter of the sewer pipe from six to 10 inches, and used a trenchless “pipe bursting” method that a 2001 study from the US Army Corps of Engineers found could potentially disturb, displace, and compact soils. If the pipe bursting procedure damages nearby pipes, it usually occurs during the construction work, so the fact that two years passed before the San Bruno accident “diminishes the connection, but it doesn’t eliminate it,” the co-author of that report told the Los Angeles Times. It is possible that the soil could buckle over time. According to the report, PG&E had inspected its gas line and found no problems after the sewer work

The Los Angeles Times also reported that recently released records indicated that PG&E received approval in 2007 to spend $5 million of ratepayer money to replace a high-risk section of the 30-inch pipeline north of the San Bruno blast site, but never performed the work. It asked for another $5 million to do the same job this year.

According to an earlier CNN report, the ruptured line was installed in 1948, and had a “relatively high risk and likelihood of failure,” according to a PG&E document obtained by the network. The document recommended the line be replaced because of its proximity to a populated area. The Wall Street Journal reported that the gas line had an unusual construction, in that it contained a longitudinal seam and numerous welds indicating it had been made from many small segments of steel pipe.

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