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San Bruno Blast Survivors Call For New Leadership At CPUC

SAN BRUNO (KCBS) - Several survivors of the pipeline explosion that devastated a San Bruno neighborhood offered emotional testimony Thursday calling on state regulators to reopen public hearings to determine how much Pacific Gas and Electric will pay for its role in the tragedy.

This week, evidentiary hearings to determine the size of the fine PG&E will pay were closed to the public. Instead the deliberations will take place behind closed doors, which California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey said could deliver results six months sooner than public hearings.

KCBS' Margie Shafer Reports:

"The public has a right to see justice done. On that, we agree. Who benefits? Who, I ask you, benefits from waiting longer to make that happen?" Peevey asks, adding that San Bruno residents would be represented at those hearings.

His assurances did little to assuage doubts among those who directly felt the impact of the 2010 blast that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

Kathy DeRenzi ran for her life when a pipeline exploded in her neighborhood.

"I don't trust PG&E anymore. I don't trust the PUC anymore," DeRenzi said.

She and Rene Morales, whose daughter Jessica was killed in the blast, called for Peevey's removal.

"Going behind closed doors is not acceptable," Morales said. "I know you served 12 years, Mr. Peevey, and perhaps you've done a good job in that time, but I believe we need new."

Those residents found support from Assemblyman Jerry Hill, a frequent critic of both PG&E and state regulators who is overseeing legislative hearings on the blast.

"The victims of San Bruno and the public deserve justice, and justice will not be served without open, transparent hearings," Hill said.

Peevey noted the safety report damning PG&E's role in the blast is publicly available online. He said the only thing paused that has paused is the utility's defense against the charges.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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