September 9, 2010 a 30” diameter steel natural gas transmission pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric exploded into flames in a residential area of San Bruno, California. Eight people died, 60 were injured, homes 500’ from the pipeline were impacted, over 55 homes were destroyed.
The loud roar and height of flames led to the initial belief that a jet airplane had crashed or an earthquake had occurred. In fact, the US Geological Survey registered the gas pipeline explosion a magnitude 1.1 earthquake. Witnesses reported a fire wall 1,000 feet high. It took the crews nearly an hour to determine it was a gas pipeline explosion and an hour and a half to shut down the flow of gas in San Bruno.
On his first day as mayor of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Ed Pawlowski
promised he would “…build a better Allentown.” No one was prepared for the February 9, 2011 explosion of a natural gas distribution pipeline that shook his city and shaped his vision for a better Allentown. The gas explosion that ripped through North 13th Street touched off fires that blazed for five hours before the gas flow was finally shut off. Five citizens lost their lives, hundreds were evacuated from their homes and the explosion left residents and the mayor in fear that it would happen again.
The inferno was caused by a cracked 12” cast iron distribution pipeline operating at a pressure little more than what it takes to blow up a balloon. The pipe was installed in 1928 – about the average age for cast-iron pipes running throughout Allentown and other US cities.
In the aftermath of these tragedies, the mayors each became advocates for defining reasonable and predictable regulations to safeguard their communities. A February 18, 2013 meeting in San Bruno became the founding meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Pipeline Safety, where a group of 14 (see who we are) discussed the “who, what, where and why” of forming a Mayors’ Council on Pipeline Safety
MCPS has called for better, tighter federal regulations and for cities to be proactive in ensuring higher safety standards.