PG&E pleads not guilty in fatal San Bruno pipeline blast

While the indictment against PG&E seeks $6 million in damages, a judge allowed the U.S. attorney general to request a higher amount.
April 21, 2014 6:04:53 PM PDT
PG&E entered a not guilty plea in federal court Monday as the U.S. Attorney's Office announces it hopes to punish the utility company even more than first expected in connection with the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion.

Lawyers for PG&E were in federal court Monday to answer criminal charges for the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. While the indictment seeks $6 million in damages, in court the judge allowed the U.S. attorney general to request a much higher amount.

Monday the judge allowed prosecutors to ask for more money if they can prove that PG&E saved millions by not properly inspecting and maintaining the San Bruno pipeline.

Steven Meyers represents the city of San Bruno. He said, "So it can be substantially in excess of $6 million."

The September 2010 explosion killed eight people, injured 66 and destroyed an entire neighborhood. Yet in Monday's indictment, no one from PG&E was named.

Joe Cotchett is an attorney representing both victims and PG&E shareholders. He told ABC7 News, "Instead of putting the money, as the public requires, through the PUC and into the safety and inspecting these lines, for years what they did is they made distributions to executives."

PG&E maintains none of its employees intentionally violated federal law.

"Today we reaffirmed our commitment to making a lot of progress on our system. San Bruno was a tragic accident and we are accountable for that," said Greg Snapper, a PG&E spokesperson.

Federal prosecutors refused to answer that question on Monday.

It's unlikely this federal case will go to trial. Instead PG&E is expected to settle with the government. All of the money collected will be used to make more improvements to the system.

Connie Jackson is San Bruno's city manager. She told ABC7 News, "That the system is made legitimately safe so that nobody anywhere has to worry about experiencing what happened in San Bruno in 2010."

The city of San Bruno has already settled its lawsuit against PG&E. Many families have too.

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