Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion – San Bruno, California

The National Transportation Safety Board stated “the main cause of the natural gas pipeline rupture in San Bruno, California, that killed 8 people and burned 3 dozen houses last September was 54 years of bad management by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and state and federal regulators who did not notice the problem.” The San Bruno pipeline burned for over an hour after the explosion in part because of difficulty in isolating the location of the rupture. It was determined that “the pipeline ruptured at a spot where utility workers installed bad pipe in1956, skipping half the welds and either not inspecting the finished product or grossly misinterpreting the results.” The Safety Board is investigating 4 other pipeline failures. Proposed new pipeline safety rules include installation of valves at shorter intervals, requiring valves be capable of operation by remote control, and stricter rules on corrosion control. New York Times, August 31, 2011.