A California utility faces $1.4 billion in penalties for committing 3,798 violations of state and federal laws, rules, standards or regulations in connection with its pipeline, according to a recent article in the New York Times.
Two administrative law judges in California recently imposed the penalties on Pacific Gas & Electric Company, which operates the natural gas system in San Bruno, Calif., where a massive pipeline failure in 2010 caused an explosion that killed eight people. Dozens of other people were injured in the conflagration, which also destroyed three dozen homes.
“The deadly explosion in 2010 raised concerns about the care and maintenance of underground pipelines as the use of natural gas has boomed as a coal alternative,” The Times wrote.
The utility has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars settling claims by the victims and their families and contributing to the recovery efforts in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco, according to The Times. “PG&E also faces charges by federal prosecutors in San Francisco, who earlier this year accused the company of ‘knowingly and willfully’ violating the Pipeline Safety Act and of obstructing a federal investigation into the explosion,” the article states.
The judges’ lengthy rulings detail the terrifying explosion, problems with the gas company’s response to the blast and its efforts in the years leading up to the accident to cut costs, according to The Times.
The pipeline explosion in San Bruno’s Crestmoor section created a 72-foot-long crater and tossed a 3,000-pound section of pipe 100 feet, according to the article. It took more than 95 minutes for the utility company to isolate the break and shut off the gas. “The Crestmoor neighborhood was effectively wiped off the map,” the administrative law judge Timothy J. Sullivan wrote in his ruling.
To read the New York Times article, click here.