SAN BRUNO (AP/BCN) — Officials say an eighth victim has died from the gas line explosion that consumed a San Bruno neighborhood earlier this month.
The San Mateo County coroner’s office said Tuesday that it was notified of 58-year-old James Emil Franco’s death Monday morning.
An autopsy is scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.
On Tuesday, Federal investigators are looking into whether an equipment failure along the pipeline that exploded was a factor in the deadly September 9th blast.
The National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews were working on a power supply system in Milpitas, 30 miles from the blast site in San Bruno, shortly before the explosion. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said the system failed at some point during the work.
The power supply system is designed to ensure that electricity remains constant if there is a blackout. Experts say its failure could have affected PG&E’s ability to monitor and regulate pressure in the 46-mile pipeline that ran through San Bruno.
In prepared testimony to a Senate panel Tuesday, PG&E’s president suggested lawmakers create a federal standard to limit how close companies can build high-pressure pipelines to homes.
President Chris Johns saidthat lawmakers should also consider formal safety benchmarks for pipeline operations, a reassessment of the adequacy of the technologies companies use to test the safety of pipes, and a broad review of the impacts of urbanization on the nation’s gas transmission system.
(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)