(CNN) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the White House to make a federal disaster declaration in the aftermath of last week's pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno, California, his office said Wednesday.
"This event has destroyed and caused serious damages to homes, infrastructure, and other public facilities in San Mateo County," Schwarzenegger said in a letter to President Obama. "The response and recovery costs for this event are estimated at nearly $10.4 million."
A disaster declaration from the White House would free federal funds to cover those costs.
The request came as a consumer watchdog group said pipeline owner Pacific Gas & Electric had planned in 2009 to replace a section of its gas pipeline just a couple of miles from the section that exploded, but never spent the $5 million in rate increases to do the work.
TURN [The Utility Reform Network] also said the utility asked for another $5 million for the same project in 2009 - the year it should have completed the work it hasn't even started - saying it wouldn't be completed until 2013.
"The money was spent on what they call higher priority work," said TURN senior attorney Mike Florio.
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