RANCHO CORDOVA—The National Transportation Safety Board released the final report on the house explosion in Rancho Cordova on Christmas Eve 2008.
The NTSB report says that the "probable cause of the December 24, 2008, release, ignition, and explosion of natural gas was the use of a section of unmarked and out-of-specification polyethylene pipe with inadequate wall thickness that allowed gas to leak from the mechanical coupling installed on September 21, 2006." The NTSB released their report at 7 a.m. Friday.
They went on to say that PG & E is not without fault. "Contributing to the accident was the 2-hour 47-minute delay in the arrival at the job site of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company crew that was properly trained and equipped to identify and classify outdoor leaks and to begin response activities to ensure the safety of the residents and public."
The Christmas Eve explosion killed 72-year-old Wilbert "Bill" Paana, and injured 5 others who were at the home on Paiute Way, between Kachina and Calle del Sol Ways. The one home was destroyed, and two nearby were damaged.
From the report, it was also determined that, "at the time of the accident, PG&E did not require any of the responders to periodically check in with their dispatch offices to communicate delays in responding. Secondly, PG&E sent technicians (gas service representatives) as the first responders to leak complaints. These technicians were neither trained in grading outdoor leaks nor equipped with the equipment required to do so under PG&E's operator qualification program. A technician who encountered an outdoor leak was required to call Dispatch and have a leak inspector (equipment operator) sent to grade the leak. Third, technicians responding to odor and/or leak complaints did not have barrier tape or notices that could be used to warn an absent homeowner that the house was dangerous because of leaking gas and not to enter the house."