When one of PG&E’s underground gas lines ruptured in San Bruno, California, it caused an explosion that killed eight, destroyed 38 homes, and damaged many others. The gas line ruptured because when PG&E installed it in 1958, it did not properly weld the pipe’s seam. Over the years, PG&E’s own engineers warned management that the pipe might be unsafe. But instead of replacing it, PG&E operated the pipe at increasingly high pressures until it ultimately split apart.
PG&E’s CEO was replaced once the utility’s unsafe practices came to light, and PG&E was ordered to institute new and safer practices so that similar explosions would be avoided.
We obtained settlements for 59 victims of the explosion. Though the settlement amounts are confidential, PG&E has reported that the clients’ claims were resolved as part of a larger settlement that cost PG&E more than $500 million.