Mayor Jim Ruane said today that San Bruno reached a historic moment with the the city recently reached with PG&E.
With the recent restitution settlement reached to support the city’s recovery efforts following the tragic 2010 pipeline explosion, PG&E has now dedicated nearly $250 million—if not more—to the city and Crestmoor neighborhood residents. That amount is reportedly the highest ever dedicated by a utility so far following a pipeline explosion.
Still, Ruane said a price tag couldn’t be placed on the impact of the explosion, which left eight people dead and 38 homes destroyed. PG&E also might still be on the hook for the more than 250 lawsuits residents have filed as a result of the accident—the trial is expected to begin in July—and the utility could face more fines from state regulators. Ruane didn't go into detail about what the $70 million in restitution would be used for.
“As a community we worked hard to get this restitution to do something important for San Bruno,” Ruane said today at a news conference, adding that the city as a whole became a victim of the fire. “Still, we know that nothing, no amount of money, no amount of apologies, weill ever bring back the citizens we lost, the homes that were destroyed, the family heirlooms that were burned, the community that existed before Sept. 9, 2010.”
Before the San Bruno fire, the 1999 gasoline explosion in Bellingham, WA, which left three people dead, had been the most costly.
Carl Weimer, the executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, said compensation for all the damage from that explosion reached about $100 million. Part of that money went toward creating the organization.
“It sounds like, with all the different pieces involved with the San Bruno explosion, the costs are going to end up being much higher,” Weimer said. “I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of it yet.”
Ruane said the city still plans to pursue more compensation from PG&E through the California Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC is now considering whether to penalize the utility for the explosion after a report found that PG&E violated state and federal pipeline safety regulations, and the city might be able to benefit if fines were levied.
PG&E President Chris Johns said he understands the explosion’s impact on the city and that the company is committed to doing whatever it takes to rebuild San Bruno.
“We committed the night of the tragedy and continue to commit that we will help the victims and the community heal and rebuild,” Johns said in a statement. “Today's announcement is another step in that process.”
PG&E previously to support the emergency needs of the Crestmoor residents in the aftermath of the fire.
In addition to announcing the settlement, Ruane also said the city has agreed to cap at $50 million the last year to handle the repairs to the city infrastructure damaged by the explosion. Previously, the trust fund amount was $70 million.
PG&E assured the city that the recent settlement will be paid for with shareholder dollars and not be passed down to customers.