As the death toll climbs from the tragic natural gas explosion in San Bruno, news is emerging that residents in the area knew about the leak and reported it to PG&E – as far back as three weeks ago. After a cursory glance around the neighborhood, however, PG&E apparently did nothing to address the leak. Shoshana Walte and Gerry Shih of Bay Citizen have the story:
“They already knew about the leak and they didn’t do anything,” said Alex Monroy, who lives on Claremont Drive, not far from where a broken gas main burst into flames early Thursday evening, scorching everything around it….
Tim Gutierrez, another resident, told CBS 5 that he smelled a gas-like odor for several days before the accident. He said representatives of PG&E searched the neighborhood looking for a leak.
“A little later they took off and that was it,” said Gutierrez.
He said shortly afterwards, he believed that he smelled the same odor emanating from a sewer.
This is a pretty stunning report. If it’s true that PG&E failed to properly investigate and stop the leak, then they’re almost certainly liable for the mayhem that the explosion has caused.
It also would call into question the priorities of PG&E’s leadership, which spent a whopping $46 million in their failed attempt to pass Prop 16, which would have undermined local government efforts to provide renewable energy to their residents. The CPUC has announced an investigation, and part of it should examine whether PG&E has cut back on maintenance and field crews in order to pad their profits and fund their ballot initiative campaign.
PG&E clearly has a lot to answer for in this disaster.
UPDATE: PG&E’s stock is falling fast as investors worry about the company’s liability for this disaster. I’d sell too if I owned any stock.