San Bruno, Three Years After Deadly PG&E Blast

Nearly three years after a PG&E gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, the city’s mayor said today that residents are still rebuilding their devastated neighborhood, and city leaders continue to advocate for stricter oversight of the state’s natural gas infrastructure.

The explosion in San Bruno’s Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood on Sept. 9, 2010, destroyed 38 homes, killed 8 people, injured more than 60 others and “left a massive hole in our community,” Mayor Jim Ruane said at a news conference.

“Since tragedy struck our city three years ago this month, nearly half of the destroyed homes in the Crestmoor neighborhood have been rebuilt,” Ruane said.

Of the 38 homes that were destroyed, 16 have been rebuilt and are once again occupied, he said. Out of 17 homes that were burned and badly damaged, 15 have been fully repaired.

The city has so far spent more than $13 million to replace water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure in the immediate area of the explosion, a figure that is expected to grow as infrastructure repairs continue beyond the blast zone, Ruane said.

“A similar project to replace underground infrastructure is now under way in the rest of the neighborhood,” he said.

“We anticipate that the final reconstruction of the sidewalks, streets, streetlight system and expansion and rebuild of the neighborhood park will begin in coming months,” Ruane said.

City Manager Connie Jackson said that the city continues to be an interested party in proceedings at the California Public Utilities Commission, where a panel of administrative law judges is in the process of considering how much to penalize PG&E for the explosion.

“There continues to be a great deal of important activity going on at CPUC,” Jackson said.

San Bruno leaders have pledged to honor the lives of the eight who died in the explosion by ensuring that PG&E pays for its negligent safety standards, and that CPUC is held responsible for its lack of oversight.

“We are calling on stronger and improved oversight by state regulators at the CPUC to understand why this happened and to make sure it never happens again,” Ruane said.

A decision on how much the state will fine PG&E is expected to be handed down this fall. San Bruno officials and consumer advocates have called for a maximum penalty of more than $2 billion.

Crestmoor residents and city officials plan to hold a private remembrance of the explosion’s three-year anniversary on Monday at around 6 p.m., Jackson said.

Families who have moved back to the neighborhood since last year’s remembrance ceremony will receive a proclamation from the city, she said.

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