Rancho Cordova, CA – Packing pipe not approved for use in a gas line repair caused a leak that eventually fueled a fatal explosion inside a Rancho Cordova home on Christmas Eve last year, according to the first report from the federal government.
Wilbert “Bill” Paana, 72, died after the blast on Paiute Way. His daughter, Kim Dickson, and granddaughter, Sunny Dickson, were seriously burned.
“We are very sorry for this tragic event. We have taken extraordinary measure to ensure this never happens again,” company spokesman Brian Swanson said Thursday.
Paana’s family declined to comment, their attorney said.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s report isn’t yet final. However, its initial report indicates how the packing pipe ended up being used to repair the line.
In part, the report says:
“The pipe used for packaging is made from the same resin and on the same equipment as their specification pipe products. However the packing pipe has no print line markings and may vary greatly in dimensions from specification pipe. This packing pipe is not intended for use as a specification pipe product. … PG&E determined that Sacramento yard had an informal practice of using packing pipe as stub markers. The packing pipe was stored in separate bins for stub markers. During PG&E’s investigation it was in one of these bins that two pieces of unmarked 1¼-inch polyethylene pipe was found. Neither piece had a print line marking. PG&E confirmed that no other PG&E yard used the packing pipe for any purpose.”
PG&E has told KCRA 3 its crews went back to all repairs previous to this incident to be sure packing pipe wasn’t used in any other repairs. The company stressed that the packing pipe was only located at the Sacramento yard, not at any other PG&E facilities.
PG&E has also made nine different policy and procedure changes because of the blast, including mandating that packing pipe be discarded.