Skip to comments.PG&E Criminally Charged in Fatal San Bruno Pipeline Blast
Posted on 04/02/2014 4:07:31 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Pacific Gas and Electric was charged on Tuesday with federal felony counts involving safety violations linked to a 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The indictment charges the utility with 12 felonies and accuses it of violating numerous federal pipeline safety laws.
Federal prosecutors allege that PG&E knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline that eventually ruptured, sparked a fireball and leveled 38 homes in San Bruno.
(Excerpt) Read more at nbcbayarea.com ...
Shades of Erin Brockovich.
Any fine will be paid by the customers, not the company.
A company I worked for set up the quality manager for what could have been criminal charges. Then, when they were discovered they sacrificed him. He didn’t go to jail, but he could have. Yes, he did what the accused him of, but his boss led him to believe if he didn’t he’d be fired.
That was the most tense place I ever worked. I was slippery enough to stay one step ahead of them. But I lived in fear that they’d one day tell me to do something similar and I’d have to walk out the door. Finally, the killed the company by taking an insane risk and 80% of the employees (all innocent) were laid off. The top guys all got golden parachutes. On the good side, the experience provided me with enough real life examples to get my MBA.
The PG&E employees that commited the felonies and that violated numerous federal pipeline safety laws need to go to prison. In addition to hefty fines to the company.
A town blew up. I guess if you were there, you’d be okay with that?
Let me add: with the proviso that none of the fines and be recouped by raising customer rates. Let the shareholders pay for a change. The company must feel real pain.
Are you familiar with the Erin Brockovich story?
The CEO should be picking up garbage on the side of the highway with pointy stick.
Amen! And wearing britches with a strip down the leg.
We own a home in Carmel-by-the-Sea. PG&E is in the process of replacing most of the gas distribution piping there including the replacement of the service lines from the mains to the homes. They wanted to move our gas meter because it was under a kitchen window and unless we had been there to protest, they would have put it in a place that would have blocked fire egress (but it would not have been under a window). They managed to piss off half the neighborhood with their high-handed decision making, and their seeming inability to communicate with absentee homeowners. We had called both the city and PG&E in advance of this work, left contact info, and spoke with the people directly involved with the construction. We found a note under a rock on a pile of dirt in our yard asking us to call. They made a neighbor spend $5,000 to move their electrical service so that it was more than 3 ft from the meter. Both gas and electric services are from PG&E and the homes have been there since 1940, so you have to ask yourself, if all of these installations present a risk, where have they been all these years? A few blocks away, they managed to blow up a home by not managing the cutoff and reconnection of the gas to it. Luckily, no one was injured, but the roof of the house that blew up landed on the roof of the house next door. In speaking with the contractor, it is clear that all of this is in response to San Bruno.
The shareholders of a major utility company are largely working people (in their pension plans) and retirees seeking, mostly, a steady income stream.
Better to punish those actually responsible for any criminal conduct (specific people who did the bad deeds while on the payroll of the firm).
On KSFO this morning, they were saying the gas pipes in San Bruno had not been inspected in over 50 years. That’s crazy!
Problem is, regulations have changed since the '40s, gotten tighter, more numerous. Like a private citizen doing a remodel, if they go in to add to or change the electrical system, they have to bring stuff up to the current code. In new hookups, PG&E has to go in and verify that the installation meets code before they can provide service. When PG&E has to do a distribution system rebuild, they then have to go around and turn all those customers back on individually. If they supply gas to a house, and reconnect their new service and don't make sure that the customer side is up to code and the house explodes, guess who is held responsible? If new regulations state that the electric service must be a certain number of feet away from the gas meter, it's not PG&E's responsibility to make the necessary code-driven changes on the customer side. In this nanny-state, litiginous environment, PG&E's only recourse would be to refuse to reconnect the customer rather than face the liability.
My point: shareholders should be punished before customers. PG&E is a monopoly. Customers cannot choose another gas or electric company. Therefore, since the company committed felonies and violated other rules, the company should pay, not the customers.
As I posted above, the people who committed the felonies and violations should go to prison. To hell with this “fine” bullshit. That, IMHO, provides no punishment.
Yes but shareholders shouldn’t be punished either, they had no knowledge or actual control of this .... the actual criminals within the company who did the bad stuff are the ones who need to be punished.
What did PG&E know and when did they know it?
He had a choice and made the wrong one.
“Problem is, regulations have changed since the ‘40s, gotten tighter, more numerous. “
Sure, I am a registered PE in the State of California, and I understand what you’ve said. It isn’t that these changes weren’t needed, it’s two things: 1). They did a survey, of these needs, but they were not communicated to the homeowners in a timely fashion so as to facilitate and mitigate the individual situations the changes were going to cause. In my case, if I had allowed them to move my meter, it would have been in violation of local fire codes relating to egress, but seemingly, that was not taken into consideration by PG&E. And because I am an engineer (and I happened by chance to show up when they were actually working on our home), I was able to meet with the PG&E inspector on-site and craft an alternative that met both needs. But initially, it didn’t look like they were going to listen until I threatened to have the job red tagged by the FD. There are a lot of older retired people in Carmel who found themselves in an unnecessary bind both because of the way PG&E approached the problem and the fact that the City Engineer was not on top of what was going on. 2) It goes to PG&E’s mindset that they only reacted across the state in the aftermath of of San Bruno when they should have been reviewing areas proactively for years to avoid any San Brunos.
At the end of the day, public utilities are only a small step removed from the government in the manner in which they deal with their customers. If you doubt that, try opting out from your smart meter.
Put that corporation in prison! It can occupy the cell next to Enron.
“He had a choice and made the wrong one.”
Yes, he did. But that story in relation to the one I commented on was the wrong guy would get punished. An employer has a lot of power over people’s lives. Most people can’t afford to be without a paycheck even for a little while. (Which is another issue altogether.)
I agree. But sometimes you have to quit your job even if you can’t afford to. Or you have to be willing to accept the consequences. A personal financial situation should not be and is not a legitimate excuse.
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