PG&E charged with obstruction in San Bruno natgas blast probe

Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:43am EDT

Firemen spray water on the remains of a house as smoke rises from the aftermath of Thursday's fiery gas line explosion in a neighborhood in San Bruno, California September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Ramin Rahimian

Firemen spray water on the remains of a house as smoke rises from the aftermath of Thursday's fiery gas line explosion in a neighborhood in San Bruno, California September 10, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Ramin Rahimian

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(Reuters) - A federal grand jury for the Northern District of California charged PG&E Corp on Tuesday alleging it obstructed the investigation of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into the deadly San Bruno natural gas explosion in 2010.

The indictment alleges that the company provided the NTSB with a version of a policy outlining the way in which PG&E addressed manufacturing threats on its gas pipelines during the investigation that was later withdrawn.

In addition, the indictment charges the company with 27 counts of "knowingly and willfully" violating the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office. (1.usa.gov/1nFKx5l)

A natural gas pipeline explosion in the city just south of San Francisco destroyed a neighborhood and killed eight people on Sept. 9, 2010. The National Transportation Safety Board later blamed the utility's lax approach to pipeline safety and weak oversight by state and federal regulators.

PG&E said in March that it expected the U.S. government to file criminal charges against the company.

The utility has been hit with multiple fines connected to the disaster and paid $70 million to settle related claims in 2012.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bangalore and Daniel Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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