As the one year anniversary of the Sept. 9, 2010, natural gas pipeline blast in San Bruno nears, which killed eight people and demolished 38 homes, it has become clear, thanks to the final report of the National Transportation Safety Board’s lengthy investigation, that the public utility responsible did pretty much everything wrong.

On Tuesday, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman chided Pacific Gas & Electric, along with the California Public Utilities Commission, the regulator, for “a lax system of oversight,” and while the tragedy began with the installation in 1956 of a “woefully inadequate pipe, it was compounded by a litany of failures – including poor recordkeeping, inadequate inspection programs and an integrity management program without integrity.”

The NTSB’s investigation found that the rupture of Line 132 was caused by a fracture that originated in the partially welded longitudinal seam of one of six short pipe sections, which are known in the industry as “pups.” Apparently, the installation of this section of the line did not meet acceptable standards even 54 years ago. And since the recordkeeping was so shoddy, no one knew what was in the ground and where it was manufactured.

Add to that the fact that PG&E took 95 minutes to stop the flow of gas and to isolate the rupture site, it was also apparent that the utility had no emergency response plan in place.

The NTSB recommendations, which are not binding, but are usually partially met, include amending federal regulations to require automatic shutoff values or remote control valves, conducting threat assessments and amending another federal regulation to delete the “grandfather” clause and require that all gas transmission pipelines constructed before 1970 be subjected to hydrostatic pressure tests that incorporates a spike test.

There are dozens more recommendations, not only to PG&E and the CPUC, but also to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the American Gas Association and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Only time will tell if these recommendations are adopted nationally as well as regionally.

PG&E knew well in advance that it would get slammed in the final report, so four days prior it released a “multi-year modernization plan” that would “rigorously verify and upgrade the integrity of all of its nearly 6,000 miles of pipelines.” The plan would also replace 186 miles of gas lines, all of which would cost in the neighborhood of about $2 billion. PG&E customers will pay about 90% of the cost, amounting to $2 per customer per month. The CPUC approved this rate hike.

The utility said it’s preparing for these changes by separating its gas and electric units, hiring 150 new employees and transferring all its paper records online, among other things. It has also hired a new CEO and president, Anthony Earley, a Michigan energy executive and the first non-PG&E veteran to be named to those positions. While the former CEO and president, Peter Darbee, could have changed the culture and focused more on safety issues, at least he walked away from the whole mess with a $35 million retirement package.

So now the question is: Considering the lawsuits forthcoming and the virulent public anger, can PG&E survive?

“I believe the PG&E organization can be saved and survive with the right focus and detailed plan that should be fairly transparent to help gain confidence and credibility with the public,” said Richard B. Kuprewicz, a gas pipeline safety expert and president of Accufacts Inc., Redmond, Wash. “The next several months should indicate whether certain proper and prudent plans and efforts are actually occurring within PG&E and the CPUC.”

The reaction nationally also concerns Kuprewicz, who said the industry “needs to be following the concepts defined in gas transmission pipeline integrity management (IM), and given the noise spin by some in the gas industry following the January Urgent Safety Recommendations issued by the NTSB, a few pipeline operators across the country aren’t complying with federal IM pipeline safety regulations.”