by Roger Pynn

One thing you really ought to avoid when your company has been involved in a catastrophe involving the loss of human life is saying anything that might imply you hadn’t taken precautions because it was expensive or inconvenient.  Am I right?

As one who has been involved in several natural gas pipeline projects over the years, reporting Thursday on NPR’s “All Things Considered” almost made me drive off the road during a story about the tragic Pacific Gas & Electric explosion last year that left eight people dead and 38 homes destroyed in San Bruno, Calif.

NPR’s Richard Gonzales was reporting stiff fines being recommended for PG&E and the company’s plans announced earlier this week for high-pressure water testing of aging pipelines.  Not only has the company said it can’t find records of previous safety testing, but according to Gonzales’ report “until now the company had resisted calls for such measures (hydrostatic testing), citing cost and inconvenience.”

That was when the poor fellow next to me must have feared for his life as I gripped the steering wheel and shouted at the radio:  “I’m sure the people who lost their loved ones felt inconvenienced, too!”

I wonder if the California Public Utilities Commission can fine stupidity.

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