Saturday, January 29, 2011

It's also good to be a corporation

On September 9, an explosion and fireball ripped through part of the California town of San Bruno. A natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the nation's largest utility, had exploded. Eight people were killed and more than three dozen homes were destroyed.

In November, the utility admitted that its records about the pipeline were all wrong. Not only wasn't it "seamless," as the company had said, "even a layperson could see the patchwork of welds marking the pipe" in the words of Deborah Hersman, who chairs the National Transportation Safety Board.

And now it emerges that the utility can't locate any testing records for 30% of its lines going through urban areas. That is, PG&E has no idea of the condition of nearly a third of its pipelines passing under areas where people live and has no idea of how much pressure they can withstand.

The result so far has been a call for "a new perspective on safety culture" and some hearings. I wonder what would have happened to an individual whose clear negligence had killed eight people.

2 comments:

Chris Doran said...

You don't have to subscribe to any particular ideology to demand accountability for a disaster like this. Unfortunately that's going to be passed down to the lowest credible person in the corporate ladder as opposed to whatever putz decided truth in marketing was over-rated. Well, their customers would probably like to see an inquiry into this, the ones that are still alive at any rate. The gas line was built with their money, or at least that's what the cries of outrage are whenever the government wastes their tax dollars.

Would Americans truly rather live under constant threat of explosive death than support SOME form of standards and oversight? Would a proper welding job have eaten so much of their profit margin? Or is human life just that cheap? Are customers and employees faceless account numbers to be managed on a balance sheet with the rest of the earnings and losses?

LarryE said...

You don't have to subscribe to any particular ideology to demand accountability for a disaster like this.

Absolutely.

Would a proper welding job have eaten so much of their profit margin?

What's even worse is that the company claimed it was a seamless pipe, that is, one solid piece with no welds. Not only was it poorly welded, but if you believe PG&E, the company didn't even know it was welded at all!

Are customers and employees faceless account numbers

Only until you don't pay your bill. Then they get up close and personal.

Thanks for your comment. It was appreciated.

 
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