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Trial Date Set for Pipeline Explosion Lawsuits

Persons who have filed personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits related to a deadly pipeline explosion in California last year that killed eight people and left dozens injured, will have to wait until July 2012 for justice.A judge in California has set a trial date for the lawsuits for July 23, 2012.Currently, there are more than 90 lawsuits that have been filed against Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the company that operated the pipeline.

Eight people died and dozens of homes were destroyed when a piece of natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded in a section of San Bruno.The resulting flames blazed for hours, burning down homes.According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the explosion was a direct result of negligence by Pacific Gas & Electric Company.The pipeline which exploded had suffered a fracture from a partially welded seam on one section.

The pipeline had been installed in 1956, when the area was sparsely populated.However, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the pipeline did not meet the existing quality control and welding standards in 1956.The Board found that quality standards had been either overlooked by the company, or ignored.

The National Transportation Safety Board also had plenty of criticism for the manner in which Pacific Gas and Electric Co. responded to the explosion.It took hours for the main valve that was feeding fuel to the flames, to be shut off.Pacific Gas and Electric Co. had a manual valve shutoff system to deal with an emergency situation in a well populated neighborhood in California.According to the Board, an automatic shut off system would have been able to cut off fuel supply to the blaze much quicker, reducing the size of the damage.Overall, it took the company 45 minutes to stop the flow of gas.The board found that the manual shutting off the valve contributed to the intensity of the blaze and the extent of the damage.

The National Transportation Safety Board also found that Pacific Gas & Electric Company did not have a comprehensive disaster management system in place.In an explosion of this magnitude, there should have been a system that included a single emergency operations control room, easy flow of communication, and well defined responsibilities.Instead, when the pipeline exploded, there was only chaos and confusion.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the company establish comprehensive emergency response procedures with a single highly competitive person in charge to assume command of the situation, well-established procedures, and frequent drills to ensure effective implementation of the procedures during an emergency.

The gas pipeline tragedy in California and the National Transportation Safety Board report into the disaster also has lessons for utility companies in Georgia.Many of the pipelines that traverse Georgia were installed decades ago, and now cover thickly populated neighborhoods.

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent persons who have been injured due to the negligence of others across the metro Atlanta region and Georgia.