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Breaking News / Tory Hargro, USA TODAY

A federal grand jury charged Pacific Gas and Electric with 12 felony counts Tuesday for safety violations related to a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif.

The federal indictment alleges the utility company "knowingly and willfully'' violated minimum pipeline safety standards and did not conduct required inspections and assesments of natural gas transmission pipelines.

The company was charged with failing to maintain proper records and with safety violations in the management of the pipeline that failed n the explosion in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco, and other gas pipelines.

"The citizens of Northern California deserve to have their utility providers put the safety of the community first," U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said.

PG&E acknowledged in a federal regulatory filing last week that it had been in talks with federal prosecutors in San Francisco and expected to face criminal charges.

Company CEO Tony Earley said the company has renewed its focus on safety and is "deeply sorry'' for the accident.

"PG&E believes that its employees did not intentionally violate the federal Pipeline Safety Act, and that even where mistakes were made, employees were acting in good faith to provide customers with safe, reliable and affordable energy,'' he said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors allege that PG&E knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline that eventually ruptured, ignited a giant and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno.

Prosecutors also accused the company of failing to act on threats in its pipeline system even after the problems were identified by its own inspectors.

Contributing: Associated Press



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: PG&E indicted for violations in blast

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