With Bills Pending, Hill Vows to 'Never Forget' San Bruno Fire

Three of Assemblyman Jerry Hill's bills related to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion are now on the governor's desk and could be signed into law.

As the second anniversary of the San Bruno fire approaches, Assemblyman Jerry Hill came to the city today to stress a point that many have been making since the disaster struck: Never forget.

He said three of his bills that are now on the governor’s desk would make sure that preventing another pipeline explosion continues to be a priority for the state.

If those bills pass, he said, then PG&E and state regulators would be forced to be more serious about pipeline safety—despite promises that enough has been done already.

“Some may want us to forget,” Hill, D-San Mateo, said at a news conference. “But we will never forget.”

The people who want to forget the 2010 pipeline explosion in the Crestmoor neighborhood, Hill said, are some of the top people at PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission. PG&E and the CPUC were both for causing the fire.

The explosion, which was caused by a defective weld in Line 132—a high-pressure gas transmission pipeline that ran through the Crestmoor neighborhood—left eight people dead and 38 homes destroyed.

Two years later, eight homes have been rebuilt, PG&E has filed against the company for the explosion and the damaged infrastructure in the neighborhood is beginning to be rebuilt.

Hill aimed at pipeline safety earlier this year on the steps of the CPUC headquarters in San Francisco. Now, the following are ready to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown:

  • AB 578, which would require the CPUC and gas utility companies to implement the 29 recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board proposed following the San Bruno fire;
  • AB 861, which would tie executive compensation at a utility to its safety records rather than corporate profits or the company’s share price; and
  • AB 1456, which would require the CPUC to consider the safety performance of utilities in determining gas rates that they will be allowed to charge customers.

Hill proposed AB 1456 before, but it was stalled in the Legislature.

A number of Crestmoor residents and Mayor Jim Ruane stood behind Hill at the news conference as a show of support for his legislation.

Resident Bill Magoolaghan, whose family moved back into their rebuilt home in January after it was severely damaged in the explosion, said he thinks PG&E is starting to move in the right direction with its aggressive pipeline safety efforts made since 2010.

But PG&E has made a promise to move in the right direction before, Magoolaghan said, and that promise was broken. So it’s important this time that the utility follows through on all of the recommendations the NTSB made following the disaster.

“It’s too late for us,” he said. “But putting this legislation in place is enough to make sure this doesn’t happen anywhere else again.”

Kathy DeRenzi, another resident whose home was damaged in the explosion, said she was also concerned that PG&E could become complacent again if it is not held accountable.

While PG&E has been generous to San Bruno with money and land, DeRenzi said, the residents still need to be made whole, and that effort will require the continued support of Hill and the city.

“I hope that doesn’t stop the city from standing up for us,” she said, “because we have to live through this everyday.”

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