June 10, 2015
We’ve just come back from a four day trip to California to participate in a couple of community forums in Contra Costa County, visit with our friends in the city of San Bruno, meet some staffers in the Gas Safety Division at the CPUC, and research a report we’re writing for the community of Alamo about the liquid products line in their midst and how to improve safety around it.
Our trip fell just a couple of weeks after the oil spill in Santa Barbara, and between meetings, we spent more time on the phone with reporters and legislators and their staffers talking about how to improve pipeline safety in California.
With every public meeting, every conversation with a legislative staffer who has found our website, and every reporter wondering how it is the Trust came to exist, we tell and retell the story of June 10, 1999, the lives lost, the community reaction, the insistence that the story not be forgotten once the forest in Whatcom Falls Park recovered and the salmon returned to Whatcom Creek.
The Bellingham explosion was completely preventable. Just like the more than 74% of significant incidents on hazardous liquid pipelines in the past 10 years, it was caused by things within the operator’s control. (More than 57% of the past 10 years’ significant incidents on the gas transmission system fall into these same categories.) Causes like corrosion, incorrect operation, and material or valve failure – those are things the operators can anticipate, prevent and mitigate. But for whatever reason, they don’t, or won’t, or choose not to. And so, the Bambi vs. Godzilla story continues.
Last year, on the 15th anniversary of the Bellingham tragedy, Carl wrote a remarkable description of the impact of the Bellingham story. It is a powerful reminder of Why the Bellingham Story Must Continue to Be Told. We urge you to revisit it.