SAN BRUNO -- PG&E must strengthen its gas pipeline safety regimen as part of a lawsuit settlement with a family that lost a mother and daughter in the deadly 2010 explosion, an attorney said Tuesday.
The agreement with the Greig family forces the utility to keep a closer eye on the life span of its pipelines, which will help prevent another San Bruno-type disaster, said family attorney Steve Campora. Pacific Gas & Electric also made a payment to the family as part of the September settlement, but the exact amount is confidential.
Jacqueline, 44, and Janessa Greig, 13, were among the eight people killed in the fiery rupture of a PG&E pipe that destroyed 38 homes. The mother and daughter were in their house wrapping up some school work when the pipe blew open about 200 feet from their door. Father and husband James Greig was at his older daughter Gabriela's tennis match.
"(The family) wanted to make sure something came out of this tragedy," said Campora. "I think they want to make sure what happened to their wife and daughter won't be in vain."
James Greig declined through Campora to comment.
The settlement requires the utility to calculate a minimum safe life span for pipes in populated areas, which will enable PG&E to identify weakened lines and replace them before they become dangerous. Under the agreement, the utility will give the Greigs reports on their progress.
The Greigs will also be able to demand an audit of the company's progress on the work. The family can prompt mediation talks if they conclude the utility is not keeping up its end of the bargain, said Robert Buccola, another attorney for the family.
Campora said the deadline for the work is Dec. 31, 2015 or whatever date is set by the California Public Utilities Commission.
PG&E says it has already started using the new requirement, though the process will be ongoing.
"We believe that the best way to honor the victims of the accident is to fulfill our goal of operating the safest gas pipeline system in the country," utility spokeswoman Brittany Chord said.
Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said PG&E committed a series of mistakes that caused the explosion. Authorities said the company maintained such bad records it didn't know certain key features of the ill-fated pipe that ran beneath the San Bruno neighborhood.
Over 110 people who sued the utility over the blast have reached confidential settlements with PG&E, according to the company. But more than 330 plaintiffs' complaints are still awaiting trial, which has creaked to a start in the courtroom of San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Steven Dylina. He is currently dealing with motions on evidence and opening arguments are slated for March 11.
Campora said James Greig has become involved in a charity work connected to the San Bruno blast since the tragedy. His daughter is attending college.
"They are moving on and doing the best they can," he said. "Both he and his daughter are extraordinary people."
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.