PG&E fined $38mn in 2008 fatal pipeline explosion

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (NYSE: PCG, PG&E) was fined $38 million for a 2008 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed one and injured five others in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

The California Public Utilities Commission levied the fine Dec. 1, according to The Wall Street Journal. Investigators found that faulty repairs by PG&E to the pipeline that allowed gas to leak caused the explosion in Rancho Cordova.

PG&E reportedly agreed to pay a $26 million fine, but the administrative judge rejected that amount as too low and raised it to $38 million, which PG&E also agreed to, the article said.

Reports said a much bigger fine is predicted for a September 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight and injured 58 in San Bruno, Calif. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded in August 2011 that welding defects that weakened the pipeline over time caused it to rupture. PG&E crews were doing electrical work at the time and lost control of pressure in the pipeline, leading to the blast. The NTSB also blamed flaws in the utility’s pipeline operations and poor government oversight, the article said.

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