Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
Closing Statement
Public Hearing
In Connection With the Investigation of Pipeline Accident
Pacific Gas and Electric Company Natural Gas Transmission Line
San Bruno, California September 9, 2010
Washington, DC March 3, 2011


We have no other witnesses to testify, so this portion of the NTSB's investigation into the pipeline accident in San Bruno, CA is concluded. The record will remain open for additional materials requested during the hearing.

On behalf of my fellow Board members and the NTSB staff, we extend our appreciation to the many participants at this hearing. In particular, I thank the over 2 dozen witnesses for their testimony, and the parties, and the party spokespersons, for their cooperation, not only at this hearing but throughout the investigation to date. We look forward to completing our investigation and sharing our final report with you in the coming months.

I'd like to acknowledge the NTSB staff from our Pipeline division and the Office of Research and Engineering. From the on-scene investigation to the lab work and the urgent safety recommendations developed over the winter holidays - you have worked tirelessly to document the evidence and develop the facts so that the facts are known and preventative actions can be taken.

The past 3 days have shined additional light on the facts and circumstances of September 9 and afforded the public and the pipeline industry a window into this investigation. And I thank everyone for staying with us - Congresswoman Speier has been here all 3 days.

We talked about safety policies and procedures, and how operators evaluate the integrity of the pipelines and mitigate the risk. We discussed emergency response plans and how to elevate the public's awareness so that communities are better informed and better prepared when there is an emergency. We also discussed how the federal and state entities regulate the pipeline operators and ensure compliance. And we touched on the types of technology available to industry to monitor and test the pipes. All of these discussions will assist us as we move forward in our investigation.

All of the materials from the hearing will be included in the accident docket. For the parties, the next steps will be the completion of the fact-finding portion of the investigation and a technical review. Following the technical review, the parties will be invited to provide written submissions detailing their conclusions and recommendations - this is beneficial to the Board in its analysis and offers the parties the opportunity to state their views for the record.

The NTSB is committed to finding out how this accident happened. But that's only half of the job; the other half is prevention. It's never too late to prevent future accidents. The information developed during the hearing has already resulted in some of the attendees taking action. PG&E has committed to improved public outreach and expanded use of shutoff valves.

At the NTSB, we believe that the lessons learned from the San Bruno pipeline rupture can prevent another community from enduring a similar tragedy.

This hearing is now adjourned.