Investigation done by CPUC finds Fresno County at fault for pipeline explosion

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New details on the pipeline rupture that killed one Fresno County inmate and injured more than a dozen others last April in northwest Fresno. (KFSN)

New details on the pipeline rupture that killed one Fresno County inmate and injured more than a dozen others last April in northwest Fresno. The California Public Utilities Commission released findings from its latest investigation to determine how the blast happened and who is at fault.

The CPUC was very clear about who is responsible for that deadly explosion but one lawyer representing five of the inmates injured said the agency's report is not accurate. In a 27 page long report the California Public Utilities Commission details the findings in its investigation into the PG&E pipeline rupture that killed one inmate and injured more than a dozen others last year back in April.

The incident happened at a Fresno County shooting range on Weber Avenue when a public works employee was grading the area while inmates nearby were picking up lead bullets. The Safety and Enforcement Division said in its field investigation it determined the rupture was caused by a county employee who struck the pipeline with the bucket of the front loader he was operating.

It then goes on to state the depth of cover over the pipeline is "likely" a contributing factor to the explosion. SED, however, found no evidence suggesting PG&E failed to meet requirements for minimum ground cover at the time of installation. Placing negligence and fault entirely on the county. Butch Wagner, an attorney for five of the inmates involved, disagrees. "If you know who is responsible for maintaining the cover, adequate cover, over that pipe which is PG&E, you know. It's PG&E's fault for not having adequate cover, and had there been adequate cover there may not have been an explosion."

PG&E released this statement saying the report speaks and, quote, "We want all of our customers to know that calling 811 before you dig is absolutely critical."

The CPUC also noted that corrosion to the pipeline was not a contributing factor to the incident, indicating again, that PG&E is not responsible or liable for any of the violations committed.

Fresno County and the Fresno County Sheriff's Office both said because of pending litigation it would not comment, at this time, on what was revealed in the investigation.
Related Topics:
newsexplosionfresno countyinmatesPG&EFresno County
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