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Open hearings will be held in San Bruno Pipeline explosion case

The California Public Utilities announced yesterday that hearings in the San Bruno fire case will be publicly held. California state regulators had taken some heat recently for trying to keep private their investigatory efforts around the pipeline explosion that destroyed an entire neighborhood back in September, killing eight and injuring many more.

The push for openness around the September 9 natural gas pipeline explosion investigation came largely from The Utility Reform Network, the Consumer Federation of California, California Senator Mark Leno and a local attorney already involved in the case. The chief concern of these groups and individuals is that state regulators were operating largely in private, that the San Bruno pipeline explosion was an event that affected a large enough portion of the local populace to warrant complete transparency in the ensuing investigation.

The latest push for an open investigation and hearings comes on the heels of the first distribution of donation checks this past week to victims of the disaster. All told, the San Bruno City Council planned to distribute $395,000 this past week. These funds were donated to the city by corporations and individuals alike.

California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey agreed as to the necessity of transparency in instances such as this pipeline explosion, telling the San Jose Mercury news that having such fact-finding hearings open to the public is not an uncommon occurrence. President Peevey will be proposing the creation of a clearinghouse for all documents related to the incident during the commission's next hearing on February 24.

Sources:

  • San Francisco Chronicle "Regulators holding public hearings on San Bruno" 1/28/11
  • The Examiner "San Bruno starts distributing donation checks to fire victims" by Bay City News 1/27/11

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