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Carmel mayor not satisfied with gas leak home explosion report

By Ricardo Navarro, Reporter, Ricardonavarro@kionrightnow.com
Published On: May 02 2014 08:37:31 PM CDT
CARMEL, Calif -- -

A third-party report from an independent consultant, Exponent, was released this week, offering new information about what caused a Carmel home to explode two months ago.

Mayor Jason Burnett said he's glad some questions are being answered and the investigation is moving forward. But said his concerns on how to keep this kind of explosion from happening again weren't covered in the report.

"Its good to start getting answers, unfortunately, the questions they asked are not the full set of questions," said Burnett.

The independent engineering report said PG&E crews didn't know the metal gas line they were working on had another plastic pipe in it. The report said tapping into the pipe started the gas leak. Gas built up in a home for more than half an hour, then, possibly ignited by the kitchen stove, the house blew up.

Burnett says its clear what went wrong and what happened on the ground but that's not enough.

"Why didn't PG&E have the correct maps? That's the fundamental problem, they didn't have the correct maps to the infrastructure that they own under the ground," said Burnett.

Burnett also questions response times from PG&E crews. The report's timeframe says the potentially dangerous gas leak was reported by crews at 10:38 a.m; the home exploded at 11:15 a.m.

"In 37 minutes, why couldn't gas have been shut off?" said Burnett.

Burnett says the report needs to look at whether PG&E strategies in pipeline projects should be changed,

"I was talking to the head of safety and enforcement with the California Public Utility Commission yesterday, and she is quite concerned because she is starting to see a pattern. PG&E has had several accidents in the last few years," said Burnett.

In a statement that was provided Friday, PG&E said: “Safety is our primary concern. We worked as quickly as possible to make the situation safe following the incident and we fully embrace Exponent’s recommendations. The most fundamental learning that came out of the Carmel incident is that our gas workers must always take steps to validate that what’s in the ground matches our records. We’ve also improved emergency response capabilities through more training. These enhancements will help ensure the safety our gas system and the communities we serve.”

The mayor plans to hold a special meeting next Tuesday to discuss the report and his concerns, as well as hear from what the community has to say. PG&E representatives are also expected to be there.