Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Must Read: PG&E Ordered to Inspect All Gas Lines; San Bruno Death Toll Expected to Rise

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 7:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California regulators ordered PG&E to inspect all of its natural gas pipelines throughout the state in the wake of last week’s deadly blast in San Bruno, the Chron and LA Times report. The California Public Utilities Commission also ordered PG&E to disclose how much money it has spent on gas-line maintenance and repair since 2005. Earlier this year, the utility wasted more than $40 million on a failed statewide ballot measure that would have limited renewable energy use in California.

2. The death toll from the massive San Bruno explosion is expected to rise as four people remain missing and the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office works to identify skeletal remains found at the blast site. So far, four people are confirmed dead in the explosion that decimated a Peninsula neighborhood. The federal investigation into the blast is expected to take twelve to fourteen months.

3. The LA Times also reports that public records show PG&E had planned to spend $5 million, replacing the pipeline that blew up, because the utility said “the likelihood of a failure makes the risk of a failure at this location unacceptably high.” PG&E had disclosed that the pipeline was one of the riskiest in California. The utility said, however, that it was not as bad as sections of pipeline that connect Livermore to Sunol in the East Bay and another in Fremont. The Mercury News reports that PG&E is no stranger to deadly gas-line explosions, and that at least eighteen people have died since 1986 in other blasts.

4. The Bay Area’s first toll lane is scheduled to open this week in the East Bay, along Interstate 680 between Sunol and Fremont, the Chron reports. The new system will allow solo drivers to pay to use the carpool lane during commute hours. Transit officials say the toll lanes will ease congestion and plan to expand them throughout the Bay Area, but some transportation experts say they won’t work.

5. A purported “independent” investigation by San Francisco cops into the Mehserle verdict protests concluded that Oakland Councilwomen Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan interfered with police officers, the Chron reports. Oakland police had asked the San Francisco police to look into the matter and the case has now been sent to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. However, no charges are expected to be filed against the councilwomen, who maintain that they did nothing wrong. SFPD also appears to have conflict in the case, because its cops’ union helped finance hit-piece mailers earlier this year that attacked Quan and Kaplan for their stances on Oakland police pensions.

6. Melinda Haag, the new US Attorney for Northern California nominated by President Obama, is expected to focus on prosecuting white collar, environmental, and civil rights violations, the Mercury News reports. It will be a stark contrast from her Republican predecessor, who preferred to concentrate drugs and gun cases.

7. The East Bay Regional Park District is planning to add a new 640-acre park between Pleasanton and Livermore, the CoCo Times reports. The district will spend $6.4 million acquiring the land, $2 million of which will come from the City of Livermore.

8. And Google’s Android will leapfrog over the iPhone and the Blackberry as the most popular mobile phone service in the next few years, the Mercury News reports, citing a new industry analysis. Google reports that 200,000 Android phones are activated each day, and the number is expected to rise dramatically when several manufacturers begin offering cheaper versions of the new device this fall.


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