| SAN FRANCISCO, April 21
SAN FRANCISCO, April 21 Pacific Gas and Electric
Co pleaded not guilty on Monday to federal charges
stemming from a natural gas pipeline explosion in California
that killed eight people and injured 58 others in 2010,
according to court filings.
The utility was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 1
and charged with 12 felony counts of violating safety
regulations leading up to the deadly blast in San Bruno, a city
of about 41,000 just south of San Francisco, according to the
The U.S. Attorney's Office accused PG&E of knowingly relying
on "inaccurate or incomplete" infrastructure management records
and failing to investigate its high-pressure natural gas
pipelines after potential hazards had been identified, the
Each count brought against the utility carries a maximum
$500,000 fine, the indictment said. Following Monday's
arraignment, PG&E issued a statement apologizing for the San
"We're accountable for that and make no excuses," the
"While we don't believe any employee intentionally violated
federal pipeline safety regulations, the legal process will
ensure that all of the facts related to this tragic event are
In addition to the fatalities, the explosion on Sept. 9,
2010 leveled 38 homes and damaged 70 additional residences in
the typically quiet neighborhood. Witnesses reported seeing and
hearing a thunderous fireball shooting hundreds of feet up into
the sky from the ruptured pipeline.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board
blamed the explosion on the utility's lax approach to pipeline
safety and lack of oversight by state and federal regulators.
The California Public Utilities Commission is currently
considering fining the company as much as $2.25 billion for its
role in the blast.
PG&E has spent more than $1 billion on safety improvements
since the explosion, which regulators have said could be counted
toward paying the fine.
The utility has been hit with multiple fines connected to
the disaster and paid $70 million to settle related claims in
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Lisa Shumaker)