Utility Co. Guilty of Breaking Pipeline Safety Laws


SAN FRANCISCO, CA —A federal jury has found California’s largest utility guilty of violating pipeline safety regulations before a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area and then misleading investigators about how it was identifying high-risk pipelines.

After deliberating for seven days, jurors convicted Pacific Gas & Electric Co. of obstruction and five of 11 counts of pipeline safety violations, including failing to gather information to evaluate potential gas line threats and deliberately not classifying a gas line as high risk.

The PG&E natural gas pipeline blast six years ago sent a giant plume of fire into the air, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes in the city of San Bruno.

No PG&E employees were charged, so no one is facing prison time. A judge could fine PG&E as much as $3 million for the convictions when the company is sentenced.

California regulators fined the company $1.6 billion last year for the blast.