Carmel-by-the-Sea settles lawsuit with PG&E from 2014 home explosion

Carmel-by-the-Sea settles lawsuit...

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA, Calif. - The City of Carmel-by-the Sea reached an out-of-court settlement in the lawsuit that it filed against Pacific Gas & Electric regarding a gas leak and explosion.

The explosion happened at an un occupied home on Guadalupe Street and Third Avenue, March 3, 2014.

The Carmel City Council approved the settlement 4-0.

The settlement requires PG&E to conduct regular system-wide inspections. The utility company will now install natural gas distribution line protection equipment.

“Safety was the key component of this settlement,” City Administrator Chip Rerig said.  “What happened on March 3, 2014, simply can never happen again.  We were fortunate that no one was injured.  This could have been a huge tragedy.  We will closely monitor PG&E activities to make certain all components of this agreement are observed.”

PG&E will now carry crimping devices on its trucks that can seal gas leaks fairly quickly. The trucks in Carmel did not have those devices during the 2014 explosion.

“This has been a three-year long process and it is gratifying to finally bring it to a conclusion,” said Paul Tomasi, Carmel’s police chief and director of public safety.   “We look forward to a much better relationship with PG&E and are confident the changes in safety measures and practices will make their operation safer and thus provide our community some peace of mind moving forward.”

To ensure all gas lines are not damaged, Carmel and PG&E will now require homeowners or contractors to call 811 before doing any trench digging.

PG&E was fined $37.3 million for the explosion. According to city officials this was the second largest fine against a natural gas utility in state history.

In March of 2014, PG&E crews were at work across from the home where the explosion occurred.
The city says it’s concern was that Carmel’s fire and police departments were not informed of the leak until after the explosion.

The City will also receive $1,617,000 from the PG&E Company to cover the costs of repairs and time the city police and fire departments spent dealing with the explosion.

The settlement does not include City attorney’s fees of about $530,000 because the case was settled out of court.

“It’s not about the money.  It's about the health and safety of our community,” Mayor Steve Dallas said about the settlement at the Tuesday [June 6] City Council meeting.

Friends of Carmel Forest will get $25,000 from PG&E and will plant and maintain 100 trees within the next year.

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