A day after a federal grand jury handed down a criminal indictment against PG&E for alleged violations connected to the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, city leaders on Wednesday voiced their frustration with what they said was a meager response by the utility in accepting responsibility for the tragedy.
PG&E was indicted Tuesday on 12 criminal charges of violating a U.S. pipeline safety law, including several counts related to the fatal explosion of Line 132, the natural gas pipeline that burst on Sept. 9, 2010, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.
San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane today expressed his support of the U.S. attorney's decision to file criminal charges against PG&E.
"We look forward to joining the U.S. attorney in bringing this to a just and fair resolution," he said today.
The indictment alleges the San Francisco-based utility company "knowingly and willfully" violated requirements of the Natural Gas Pipeline and Safety Act of 1968 for maintaining adequate records, evaluating risks of pipeline corrosion and leaks and prioritizing and addressing potential threats between 2003 and 2010.
PGE&'s initial appearance on the indictment is scheduled for April 9 in the court of U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero.
In a statement following the indictment, PG&E Corp., PG&E's parent company, said that it will seek to demonstrate in court that the charges have no merit.
The statement went on to say that the company will maintain its goal of "building the safest and most reliable natural gas system in the country."
Calling the San Bruno incident a "tragic accident," PG&E Corp. chairman Tony Earley said in a statement that "We've taken accountability and are deeply sorry."
Ruane today attacked the utility company's reference to the incident as an "accident."
"PG&E's misconduct was criminal. The company deliberately misdirected monies designated for pipeline safety to executive salaries. That is how this tragedy occurred," the mayor said.
"PG&E continues to call this an accident. It was a criminal act."
The mayor, who was joined by a member of the city's legal team and City Manager Connie Jackson, also alleged that the California Public Utilities Commission is guilty through what Ruane referred to as "their cozy relationship with PG&E."
The mayor said he hopes the CPUC will undergo major structural reforms and that the governor, the Legislature and the state attorney general will take action and demand changes to the CPUC.
He encouraged the CPUC to fine PG&E the maximum of $2.45 billion without credit for work performed to date and to put in place an independent pipeline safety monitor.