PG&E Facing $5 Million in New Fines for Gas Violations

Pacific Gas and Electric faces $5.05 million in state regulatory fines stemming from two separate incidents, one in Deer Park and the other in Yuba City, the Public Utilities Commission announced Tuesday.

In one case, the commission fined the company $4.05 million for five violations stemming from the August 10, 2016 incident at 950 Champion Lane in Deer Park. Two workers used a brass hammer to tap on a stuck valve, breaking it, and releasing gas that soon ignited when it reached a nearby water heater. A home was heavily damaged and the two workers were injured.

The use of a hammer to loosen a stuck valve, regulators said, was an “obsolete procedure” that had been eliminated two years before.

“PG&E failed to provide proper training, adequate procedures, or the communication to their employees who perform maintenance work on energized gas lines. PG&E did not ensure that their employees were working in a safe manner, and these failures increased the risk of injury to employees and the public.”

In a separate case, PG&E was fined $1 million for failing to properly install a joint in a plastic pipeline that later cracked and failed under pressure in January of last year. A consultant’s report found that the leak, which triggered an explosion that leveled a home and left two residents with serious burns, was caused by “fabrication error” when it was installed back in the early 1970s.

The latest violations involve repairs to distribution lines, compared to the larger transmission line that failed in San Bruno in 2010, which led the company to pay a $1.6 billion regulatory fine and resulted in a conviction for federal pipeline safety violations and obstruction of justice.

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