Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PG&E criminally charged in San Bruno 2010 explosion

ABC News San Francisco/Associated Press Jason Dearen , 4/2/14.  "PG&E criminally charged in fatal pipeline blast.

"Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was charged on Tuesday with federal felony counts involving safety violations linked to a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The indictment charges the utility with 12 felony violations of federal pipeline safety laws, which could carry a total possible fine of $6 million, or more if the court decides it somehow benefited financially from the disaster.

Aftermath of the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, 9/9/2010.
Federal prosecutors allege that PG&E knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline that eventually ruptured, sparked a fireball and leveled 38 homes in San Bruno.  Nearly four years later, the neighborhood where eight were killed and dozens injured is still recovering.

"The citizens of Northern California deserve to have their utility providers put the safety of the community first," U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a news release. The indictment accuses the company of failing to act on threats in its pipeline system even after the problems were identified by its own inspectors."   Read article.

Related -  San Francisco Examiner/Laura Dudnick, 4/2/14, "PG&E criminally charged in fatal San Bruno pipeline blast."   .... "San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane called the indictment a “positive step” as the city continues to rebuild and recover from the explosion, and praised the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its work on the case. “We have to commend the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for following through on this very aggressively,”  .... “The bottom line is we never want this to happen again, anywhere,” Ruane said.

The prosecution against PG&E is the result of a three-year investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, the California Attorney General’s Office, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, and the San Bruno Police Department.  Arraignment on the indictment in U.S. Magistrate Court has not yet been scheduled."

Note:  photograph of San Bruno fire aftermath by Lacy Atkins, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11/10.

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

This just means more fines and more rate increases.

Anonymous said...

PG&E weighed profit against public safety and went with profit. The courts are doing what only they can do, balancing the scales.