The results of the federal probe into the San Bruno gas line explosion of last September were finally presented yesterday, and the NTSB has placed all the blame for the tragedy on PG&E and their general incompetence. Efforts to shift blame by PG&E to things like a nearby sewer line project disrupting the pipe, or to a now-defunct company called Consolidated Western Steel who supplied some pipe, like 50 years ago, to the company, were totally dismissed. NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said PG&E "exploited weaknesses in a lax system of oversight, and regulatory agencies that placed a blind trust in operators to the detriment of public safety."
Though the sewer line project might have been one, final contributing factor that pushed the faulty pipe to the brink, the NTSB felt that there were a "litany of failures" leading up to the pipe bursting, including a faulty weld on the pipe that dates back to its installation in 1956. Pressure spikes ordered by PG&E might have caused two of the cracks in the already weak pipe, and the company failed ever to check on this pipe to recognize what was going on. They still can't identify the original source of the badly welded pipe for sure, and a PG&E record-keeper says if they can't find the records that's probably because they got "shit-canned."
Also, the NTSB faults PG&E for failing to respond quickly or properly, having known what was going on within 10 minutes of the accident, and failing to shut the gas off for a full 95 minutes due to organizational and technical failures. Furthermore they said "47 million cubic feet of natural gas had been released during the disaster, enough to supply 1,200 homes for a year." Yeah, so in addition to killing eight people and destroying a neighborhood, they wasted a lot of gas!
Also, here's some never-before-seen footage of the fire from just a block or two away.