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Public Safety

Bill Prompted By San Bruno Explosion Passes Assembly

On September 9th last year a natural gas pipeline in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno ruptured and exploded into flame. Pacific Gas and Electric employees tried to stop the flow of natural gas into the pipeline, but they couldn't reach the manual valve. The gas was not shut off for 90 minutes.

San Bruno Assemblyman Jerry Hill believes PG& E should have installed an automatic shut-off valve for such a large pipeline in such a populated area.

“If an appropriate valve had been in place the gas could have been cut off in fifteen minutes, which would have saved lives, possibly,” Hill said. “But more importantly, it would have saved the devastation of a community.“


Hill urged Assembly members to support a bill that would require utility companies in California to install automatic or remote shut-off valves for pipelines that cross actively fault lines or run through densely populated areas. Federal regulations require only manual valves for these pipelines. The California bill heads next to the state senate where observers expect it to pass.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.