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.