Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NTSB hits pipeline owner, regulators in deadly California blast

A faulty pipe, flawed operations, and inadequate government oversight led to the 2010 Northern California natural gas explosion that killed eight people, federal officials said Tuesday.

During a public board meeting, National Transportation Safety Board investigators delivered their final report on the matter, sharply criticizing pipeline owner Pacific Gas and Electric for the explosion in San Bruno, saying the pipe was inadequate from the time it was installed in 1956.

That was compounded "by a litany of failures" over several years, including poor record-keeping, inadequate inspection programs, and "an integrity management program without integrity," NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said.

"It was not a question of if this pipeline would burst," she said. "It was a question of when."

Hersman said the probe yielded "troubling revelations about a company that exploited weaknesses in a lax system of oversight, and government agencies that placed a blind trust in operators to the detriment of public safety." more