A federal judge has ruled that the company responsible for the 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion must pay $3 million in fines and publicize its convictions.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) faced 11 charges of violating the U.S. Pipeline Safety Act and one charge of obstruction of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation. No individuals were charged as a part of this proceeding and no charges related to the deadly San Bruno explosion itself were ever filed.
A jury found PG&E guilty of five counts of violating U.S. Pipeline Safety Act regulations related to integrity management and one count of obstructing an agency proceeding. U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson said Jan. 26 during the sentencing that the company imposed “great risk to the public safety,” according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.
PG&E will acknowledge its guilt in newspaper and television ads, beginning within 60 days of the sentencing.
The company has issued the following statement in reaction to the sentence handed down by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco:
“We want San Bruno and all of the communities we serve to know that we at PG&E have committed ourselves to a goal of transforming this company into the safest and most reliable energy provider in America and to re-earning their trust through our actions. Of course, words are not enough, and we expect to be judged by our actions.
“That is why, in support of that goal, we’ve hired some of the best gas safety experts in the country to help guide this effort and we’ve invested billions of shareholder dollars in gas safety improvements. We’ve tested and replaced hundreds of miles of natural gas pipelines, installed new emergency shut off valves, and established a state-of-the-art gas safety operations center. We use the most advanced technology in the industry for leak detection, and our response to leak detection is among the fastest in the industry.
“As a measure of the progress we’ve made, we have met 11 of the 12 recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board, and are focused on completing the final one in a safe and responsible manner. We’ve also received third-party certifications of our safety progress.
“However, we fully recognize that we will always have more work to do, regardless of the significant safety actions and investments we’ve made. We sincerely apologize to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured in this tragic explosion and we want them to know our mission and our commitment to safety will never stop. We will remain forever committed to taking action to meet the high safety standards that our customers, and we, demand and expect.”