Families who lost loved ones in the 2010 PG&E pipe explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area saw some justice in April as the electric giant was charged with federal felony counts involving safety violations. The indictment charged the utility with 12 felony violations of federal pipeline safety laws and a possible fine of $6 million.
Federal prosecutors allege that PG&E knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline. The indictment accuses the company of failing to act on threats in the pipeline system that were identified by its own inspectors. The National Transportation Safety Board found that these lapses led to the blast which killed eight, injured dozens and leveled 38 homes in the San Bruno neighborhood.
PG&E issued a statement that it "believes that its employees did not intentionally violate the federal Pipeline Safety Act, and that even where mistakes were made, employees were acting in good faith to provide customers with safe reliable and affordable energy." Under the charges PG&E could be fined $500,000 for each count or a larger amount if the company financially gained as a result of the violations or loss caused to the victims.