Story Archive

Foreseeable Consequences

California-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. suffered a catastrophic explosion in a gas line in San Bruno in 2010. The 30-inch diameter pipe had been installed in the 1950s, and its explosion sent flames 1,000 feet into the sky; emergency responders at first thought a jet had crashed, and Bay Area seismographs recorded the explosion as an earthquake. Dozens of houses were destroyed but amazingly, only eight people were killed. Earlier that year, PG&E had been granted a request for a $5 million rate increase to pay for pipeline safety inspections, but a recent audit by the state’s Public Utilities Commission discovered the money was instead spent — months before the explosion — on executive bonuses. PG&E had also been given permission to spend $5 million for the same work in 2007. The work has never been done, and the PUC has proposed a record $1.6 billion fine against the company. (RC/Los Angeles Times) ...None of which, of course, will come from the executives’ pockets.
Original Publication Date: 19 April 2015
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 21.

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