Gas line rupture in San Bruno sparks safety fears

by Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Aug 04 2012 02:15 PM | Updated as of Aug 04 2012 10:15 PM

SAN BRUNO, California - Residents of San Bruno, a San Francisco suburb, have been reeling from the Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) pipeline explosion that killed 8 people and destroyed 38 homes two years ago.

Teddy Bernardo has since rebuilt the home he completely lost in that tragedy. Fear overcame him again when he learned Thursday that a 2-inch plastic gas pipe ruptured in the same area where the hillside inferno happened in 2010.

“Initially, I thought, ‘Not again!' You know, hopefully this would be it. But I don't think so. I think something's going to come up for as long as there's construction going on,” Bernardo said.

Directly across from Bernardo's house are third-party contractors hired by the city to work on the water line.

“What they did was they were not following proper safety procedures. There were using a backhoe to dig in the trench and they wound up puncturing our gas line,” Brittany Chord, spokesperson for PG&E explained.

Fourteen homes were evacuated immediately following the gas rupture at around 10:45 in the morning.

Chord said PG&E crews arrived on scene by 11 a.m. and stopped the gas flow within half an hour.

“This is why we do contractor outreach. We are out in all of our communities in our service area, talking to contractors about the importance of safe digging procedures,” she said.

PG&E is facing over 70 separate lawsuits with over 100 plaintiffs following the deadly 2010 explosion.

Last month, Bernardo also sued the gas company for the stress and trauma his family went through. With this new development and with pending lawsuits against them, PG&E said it is doing what it takes to work with the community, to resolve problems quickly and fairly.