SAN FRANCISCO, July 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Attorney's Office today altered its allegations against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, filing a new indictment that will replace an indictment filed in April.
According to a news release issued by United States Attorney Melinda Haag, the superseding indictment alleges that PG&E obstructed the NTSB's investigation that began immediately after the San Bruno explosion. Additionally, the superseding indictment charges PG&E with 27 counts of knowingly and willfully violating the Pipeline Safety Act, allegedly stemming from PG&E's record keeping and pipeline integrity management practices. According to the government's news release, PG&E is charged with one count of obstruction of an agency proceeding in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 1505, and 27 separate counts of violations of the PSA. The maximum statutory penalty for each count is a $500,000 fine or a fine based on the twice the gross gain PG&E made as a result of the violations, or twice the losses suffered by the victims. The superseding indictment alleges that PG&E derived gross gains of $281 million, and victims suffered losses of approximately $565 million.
PG&E issued this reaction:
"San Bruno was a tragic accident. We've taken accountability and are deeply sorry. We have worked hard to do the right thing for victims, their families and the community, and we will continue to do so. We are absolutely committed to re-earning the trust of all of the people we are fortunate to serve every day.
"We have not yet seen the superseding indictment. However, based on all of the evidence we have seen to date, we do not believe that the charges are warranted and that, even where mistakes were made, employees were acting in good faith to provide customers with safe and reliable energy.
"We are confident the legal process will ensure all of the facts are fully reviewed. In the meantime, we want all of our customers to know that we will stay focused on transforming this 100-plus-year-old natural gas system into the safest and most reliable in the country."
Since the tragic 2010 explosion of a natural gas transmission pipeline in San Bruno, PG&E has worked hard to improve the natural gas system and make safety the foundation of its culture:
- Change began at the top with Tony Earley joining the company as the CEO in 2011. We restructured our gas operations business and recruited the best natural gas experts in the country to run it.
- In order to help ensure the safety of the existing pipeline system, we digitized records, conducted advanced pressure testing, replaced pipe where necessary and deployed 150 new automated or remotely controlled valves.
- We built a new gas operations control center from which we can monitor the entire system and respond more quickly and effectively to emergencies. It employs the most advanced 21st century technology.
- When a customer calls to report a gas odor, we are now among the fastest in the entire industry in responding, and we've adopted new gas leak detection technology that is 1,000 times more sensitive than before in order to help find and fix leaks before they become a problem.
- We put 3,500 leaders at all levels of PG&E through safety training and we review the lessons of San Bruno with every new employee we hire as we work each and every day to put safety first.
- We recently became one of the first utilities in the world to earn two of the highest safety certifications – the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 55001 and Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 55. These stringent certifications must be re-earned every year.
The company has settled claims amounting to nearly $500 million with the victims and families of the San Bruno accident, established a $50 million trust for the City of San Bruno for costs related to recovery and contributed $70 million to support the city's and community's recovery efforts.
For additional information and ongoing updates on this issue, please visit www.PGEresponds.com.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.
SOURCE PG&E Corporation