Natural gas explosion coincidence (from our “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” file)

California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) probably can’t be blamed for the timing of this coincidence. But there are no doubt some red faces at the company’s offices as a result of a recent natural gas explosion that destroyed a Cupertino condominium.

In the immediate aftermath of the explosion which took place last September 1st, PG&E crews needed nearly 90 minutes to shut off the gas to the pipeline that exploded. Further investigation at the scene determined that there were no fewer than seven separate leaks in the gas lines running into and out of the building, and that there was no central shutoff valve nearby that could have quickly stopped the flow of natural gas.

Ironically, the day before the Cupertino gas explosion, PG&E was excoriated in a report released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which documented the causes of a September 2010 natural gas explosion in a residential neighborhood in San Bruno, CA, in which eight people were killed and dozens more injured.

In the report, the NTSB cited PG&E for its “lax approach to pipeline safety” and that “PG&E’s inadequate pipeline integrity management program failed to identify, detect, and remove the substandard pipe segments before they ruptured.”