Federal authorities probing last year’s San Bruno gas pipeline explosion plan to release thousands of pages of investigative records next week as they kick off three days of high--profile, fact-finding- hearings on the deadly disaster.
The documents include interview transcripts, technical reports and other materials from the ongoing investigation into the Sept. 9 PG&E pipeline blast, which killed eight people and damaged or destroyed 55 homes, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said Thursday.
The probe and public hearings, which begin Tuesday in Washington, D.C., offer a chance to "provide some transparency and some information, not just for this operation involving PG&E and this accident, but really industrywide," Hersman said at a media briefing.
"You had a number of people who were probably at home sitting around the dinner table or just arriving from their commute and they could never have anticipated what happened on that day," Hersman said. "There are pipelines that run through neighborhoods and communities all over the country. We have an opportunity and an obligation to make sure they’re as safe as they possibly can be."
San Bruno’s mayor and city manager are among the local officials planning to attend the hearings, during which PG&E officials are set to be questioned under oath by technical experts, NTSB members and others about the utility’s operations and pipeline programs.
"I’m going back [to Washington] to do what I can to keep this in the forefront," San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said. "That’s the name of the game."
Several California Public Utilities Commission officials, San Bruno fire Chief Dennis Haag and other gas pipeline industry officials are also scheduled to give testimony.
Hersman said officials are "very concerned" about inaccurate pipeline records.
She said the agency hopes to have a final report on the San Bruno explosion by Sept. 9, the anniversary of the disaster.
The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct hearings next week in Washington, D.C., on the San Bruno explosion. Here are the subjects that will be addressed:
Panel 1: PG&E operations
Panel 2: Integrity management
Panel 3: Public awareness
Panel 4: State and federal oversight
Panel 5: Industrywide technology