Power Outage Eyed in San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

The massive <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/San-Bruno-California-Gas-Pipeline-Explosion">pipeline explosion that shot a fireball over 1,000 feet in the air and that sent flames tearing across a California neighborhood killing seven, injuring scores, demolishing 37 homes, and damaging dozens of others, was preceded by a power outage at the utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), said Mercury News.

PG&E lost its electric at a significant area in its Milpitas control center on September 9th, said Mercury News. The explosion was so intense that taillights on cars several blocks away melted from the flames. News about the outage was released yesterday by US Representative Jackie Speier (Democrat-Hillsborough) who was unveiling an emerging pipeline safety legislation, said Mercury news.

“I think we will probably find out months later that it was a perfect storm,” Speier said, quoted Mercury News. “It was a number of factors that came together to create an environment in which the explosion took place. There is also an issue about the loss of electricity that occurred earlier in the day and the bringing the system back up and whether or not everything was synchronized properly,” Representative Speier added.

The equipment—the so-called uninterruptible power supply system—was confirmed as having had shut down at the Miliptas control center, according to Washington spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, Peter Knudson, wrote Mercury News. Line 132, the line involved in the explosion, ran from Milpitas north to San Francisco, noted Mercury News. Crews were working on the power supply system, according to Knudson. “We are looking at whether it played a role in the accident,” he said, quoted Mercury News.

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.

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 earlier this month. Speier also just 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.

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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