There, it's all better now.
You may remember a natural gas explosion last September in a San Francisco suburb that killed eight people, injured twenty-some more and leveled an entire neighborhood.
Today, the corporate culprit, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., took out full page ads in 24 newspapers throughout its northern and central California service area apologizing for the oops. The text (with added commentary) reads as follows:
An Open Message to Our Customers and Neighbors
There are no excuses when it comes to safety.
As the top leaders at PG&E, we want you to know how deeply sorry we are about
our bottom linelast year's tragic explosion on our pipeline in San Bruno.
Federal investigators report that the explosion occurred when a faulty longitudinal seam weld ruptured along a section of pipeline installed in 1956. Contributing factors are still being determined. [Contributing factors such as shoddy construction, inadequate documentation, a misreading of operating regulations leading to the repeated illegal spiking of gas pressure, deferred maintenance (after receiving an earmarked rate increase specifically for maintenance on the main that blew), and a reluctance to run expensive testing on old mains.]
We are making major improvements in the operations of our gas system, and we want you to know about them. [I vaguely recall hearing something along these lines after this similar boom boom two years earlier.]
Since last year, we have taken many steps to make PG&E's operations as safe as you rightly expect them to be. So far, we have:
--Reduced pressure on some lines to provide a greater margin of safety.
--Begun high-pressure water testing on more than 150 miles of pipeline. [Only at the PUC's insistence.]
--Changed top leadership. Our new executive vice president of gas operations spent the last seven years dramatically improving one of the oldest gas systems in the country. [Or not: "I have no idea why they hired Nick to take over and fix San Bruno," [Mark] McDonald, [president of the New England Gas Workers Association] said. "He didn't fix our gas system, so I don't know how that's going to be possible."]
--Implemented more stringent pipeline operating standards if a positive variation in pressure occurs.
--Provided additional training to our gas operations employees. [What a concept. Employees initially dispatched to both the 2010 and 2008 explosions had neither the equipment nor know-how to respond effectively.]
--Launched a major initiative to replace or upgrade many older gas lines, add automatic or remote shut-off valves, and help develop state-of-the-art pipeline inspection technologies. [At who's cost?]
--Hired companies known for their operations safety expertise to help us implement industry best practices in our ongoing work.
--Created a new online tool so you can find the location of pipelines in your neighborhood.
Your trust and confidence in PG&E is critically important to us. We believe we will earn it only
with really expensive PR stuntsby taking action and delivering results. [Good luck with that.]
Sincerely [hah, see bottom line],
Interim Chairman and CEO
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
[P.S. Now quit yer bitchin and pay up.]
Interestingly, Messrs. Cox and Johns have nothing to say about the $34.7 million retirement package given to outgoing CEO (and Goldman Sachs alum) Peter Darbee. That's some high quality accountability they're holding Pete to, there. Yeah, his replacement will definitely have all the incentive in the world to insure this never happens again.