Utility Company Faces Felony Charges in Gas Pipeline Explosion

By Yessenia Funes Aug 10, 2016

Yesterday (August 9), a jury with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California charged the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) with five felony counts related to a natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California.

Almost six years ago, the explosion killed eight people and injured 58 others in the predominantly Asian and Latinx city. The charges stem from PG&E “knowingly failing to inspect and test its gas lines for potential dangers, in addition to the felony obstruction count,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Chronicle reports that the 12 jurors’ verdicts were unanimous. The maximum fine the energy company faces is $3 million.

The company states that it has spent $2.7 billion in shareholder funds “to enhance the integrity of its natural gas system.” Its system malfunctioned in a residential area the day of the explosion. PG&E estimated that 47.6 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was released, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Thirty-eight homes were destroyed and 70 were damaged.

"It was really wonderful to be vindicated and that they’re found guilty,” said Bill Magoolaghan, whose family escaped the fire, to Mercury News. “It’s hard to express, but it’s just another big step in putting this all behind us.”