Utility pleads not guilty to 2010 California pipeline explosion charges

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pleaded not guilty Monday to allegations that it obstructed justice by lying to federal investigators after a 2010 San Bruno, Calif., gas pipeline explosion.

Through an attorney, the utility denied all 28 counts, including obstruction and others related to its safety practices, The Associated Press said


The indictment last month accused PG&E of lying about maintenance practices and pipeline testing after the explosion that destroyed 38 suburban San Francisco Bay Area homes and killed eight.

Prosecutors said PG&E policies did not meet federal safety standards and did not prioritize the highest-risk pipeline sections for monitoring and repair.

In a statement to AP, the company said the obstruction charge is related to a paperwork error that was corrected.

“We are confident the legal process will ensure all of the facts are fully reviewed,” the utility said. “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.”

It said employees did not intentionally violate the Pipeline Safety Act.

PG&E faces up to $1 billion in penalties from the new charges. The explosion also brought lawsuits and up to $2.5 billion in civil fines.