|September 10, 2010||San Bruno Fires, Victims and Culprits||2 comments|
Just Think About It
For the past 24 hours, we as a nation, have been privy to the emotional turmoil a disaster has caused for dozens of people in the city of San Bruno, California as of approximately 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 9, 2010.
Somehow in the midst of traumas like these, we often find some misplaced 'comfort' in saying it was a 'natural' disaster such as a flood, hurricane, earthquake or tsunami. It reaffirms our knowledege that we could not control it or prevent it, therefore, removing the guilt we would feel if that were not the case.
But as much as it pains me to say it, in my humble opinion, this was not a 'natural' disaster, anymore than the oil rig fires and subsequent damage to the Gulf Coast were, in the way of an oil spill which was the direct responsibility of BP (British Petroleum).
Acccording to the Lt. Governor of California, Abel Maldonado, "there was a 30 inch gas line that was 60 years old, under four feet of pavement which exploded" and this was the cause of the devastation we see before us today.
Pacific, Gas and Electric Company (PG&E ), California's largest utility company, has already confessed to ownership of the gas line. What I would like to know, is just what else they will be willing to 'take ownership' of?
When will we start holding corporate giants responsible, not only for the 'cleanup' after the disasters but for the 'preventative measures' needed to avoid them in the first place? It has already been reported on various news networks and Lt. Governor Maldonado stated himself, that "residents reported the 'smell of gas' as much as a week to ten days or more, prior to the explosion."
So, here we are. At least four people (at last count earlier today) have died. Dozens of people have been seriously injured, lost their homes, pets, cars and other things which can never be replaced.
The Red Cross is scrambling to recruit blood donations in advance of the numerous surgeries which will be taking place for the remaining burn victims. These helpless individuals are currently admitted to at least four different hospitals around the bay area. Some are still critical.
But however much the doctors, brilliant though they are, can do to alleviate the pain and 'cover the scars,' there is nothing anyone can do to erase those memories from the minds of those who lived it...and will continue 'living it' for months and years to come.
The burn victims themselves, could take up to a year or two just to recover physically, after you factor in initial surgeries, skin graphs, cosmetic surgeries for scar tissue, etc., according to one doctor at the San Francisco Memorial Burn Unit. That does not take into account their mental and emotional well-being, let alone financial hardships.
My questions? When the dust has settled, the firefighters have all gone on to other calls, the politicians have all gone back to their plushly carpeted offices and the Red Cross moves on to the next emergency lying in wait even now, what will happen to these families then?
Who will pay their hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills when they come rolling in? Who will rebuild, replace or re-purchase their lost homes? Who will comfort the children (and adults) in the dead of night when they awake from nightmares?
Who will fight it out with the insurance companies, some of whom will undoubtedly find a way to deny at least a portion of these claims, on some technicality or other, after months of investigative red tape, when the families are told, "I'm sorry but there's nothing we can do?"
Perhaps some even better questions are; Why was the pipe not replaced (or repaired) sooner and what was the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in place to prevent such a thing?
What happened when the residents called PG&E to report the 'gas leaks and/or odors' prior to the explosion? Who did they speak with and what answers were they given? Did these residents have 'Smart Meters' installed and if so, were they 'smart' enough to detect this problem beforehand? If not, why not?
Sadly, for months and more likely than not, years to come, there will be more questions than answers but the people who should be able to answer and MUST be held responsible for these answers are the 'powers that be' at the top of the 'chain of command' at PG&E.
Just once, I'd like to see a corporate entity step up, own what they did and pay for ALL damages involved without question. These families were innocent. They had no way of knowing that there was a 'monster' lurking underground, just waiting to rip their lives to shreds in the blink of an eye. As one woman on the televison put it, "I thought it was judgement day."
Well...perhaps it is. PG&E, your time will come and make no mistake about it; you will be judged. You will be judged by the court system as I have no doubt that law suits will follow. How can they not in light of the collateral damage left by a war that was only one-sided? They never saw you coming.
You will be judged by these families, the burn victims, medical personnel, firefighters, local, state and federal politicians, your customers, the neighborhoods, other agencies and perhaps most important of all, your own conscience.
Someone, somewhere knew about this gas line prior to this explosion and no one will ever convince me otherwise. Perhaps the most difficult questions of all? Who knew? How long did they know and at what cost was it covered up? Just think about it.