SAN BRUNO, Calif. – Eight people died, 66 others were injured, and 38 homes were destroyed in San Bruno, CA on Sept. 9, 2010 when a high-pressure PG&E natural gas pipeline exploded.
Almost five years since the tragedy, the California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to fine PG&E $1.6 billion.
This is the largest penalty ever against a California utility and this is to be paid for by the shareholders.
The money will be distributed in different ways.
$850 million will go to gas pipeline improvements. $300 million will go toward the state general fund. $400 million will be rebated to PG&E natural gas customers and $50 million will go toward additional safety improvements.
PG&E assured the public that they would not appeal the ruling.
“We never want to have any accident like that happen every again and we are taking the steps to make sure this gas system stays safe,” said Greg Snapper, a spokesman for PG&E.
Filipino American Teddy Bernrado was on his way back to his family that late September afternoon in 2010 when he saw a fire in the direction of his home.
He returned to find his home and the homes of his neighbors engulfed in flames.
“It was totally burned down to the ground,” said Bernardo. “We lost everything. So whatever we’re wearing or whatever car we were driving that day that’s the only things we were able to save.”
Bernardo was the first to return and rebuild using the insurance money he received.
With the news of the fines imposed on PG&E, Bernardo says that he and his family can finally put that horrific ordeal behind them.
“Hopefully this will be a closure in San Bruno,” said Bernardo. “It’s a little difficult for my kids to see when they flash news. Hopefully PG&E learned their lesson and this won’t happen at any other place.”
Despite the large fine imposed on PG&E and the allocation of money towards safety improvements, Bernardo still has some reservations about the electric company.
“I’m not sure if I’m there yet,” said Bernardo. “I think there still a lot of things PG&E has to improve and I think I can speak not just for myself but a bunch of other people as well so I think they have a lot to do and until we see that I don’t think people will feel confident or safe that this thing won’t happen again.”
Total penalties related to the San Bruno blast against PG&E have now exceeded $2.2 billon.
The commission previously ordered the utility company to pay $635 million dollars to improve its pipelines.
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