PG&E Training Employees to Better Prevent Future Explosions

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WINTERS --

It killed eight people, injured nearly 60 and destroyed dozens of homes, leveling much of one neighborhood in San Bruno.

Thursday, five years after the blast, PG&E was ordered to pay $1.6 billion for the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion, the largest penalty ever levied against a public utility.

"We’ve been working with them now almost 18 months, said John Donlevy.

Donlevy is the City Manager in Winters, the planned site of a new 106,000 square foot, 29-acre PG&E gas operations training facility.

"This facility probably is a direct offshoot from the incident in San Bruno, and it’s a reflection of PG&E's commitment to finding new ways of training and ensuring that safety is their priority,” Donlevy said.

In a written statement to FOX40, PG&E spokesperson Brandi Ehlers said since the San Bruno incident, they've put 3,500 leaders at all levels of PG&E through safety training and review the lessons of San Bruno with every new employee.

"That’s a simulated neighborhood,” said Donlevy. “That’s where they'll use the sniffing technology and determine where these gas leaks might be coming."

The mock neighborhoods will give PG&E trainees real life experience with natural gas leaks to better prevent explosions, where real lives are lost.

Donlevy says the Winters facility will only use very small amounts of gas for this training.

“This is going to take it to a whole different level, where they learn in the classroom and then they learn out in the field,” Donlevy said.