Pacific Gas & Electric pleaded not guilty in a California federal court Monday on charges of violating the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act and obstructing a federal investigation into the deadly 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno, California.
The company is also accused of failing to comply with mandatory “integrity management” standards and failing to identify and remedy threats to its natural gas pipelines, Law360 said.
PG&E faces up to $1.1 billion in penalties.
US attorney Hallie Hoffman said PG&E earned about $281 million from the alleged crimes and the victims lost approximately $565 million because of the accident.
The pipeline ruptured in September 2010. About 47.6 million standard cubic feet of natural gas was released, causing a fire that killed eight people and injured 58 others. Dozens of homes were destroyed by the blaze.
PG&E spokesman Greg Snapper said that the company or its employees did not intentionally violate the Pipeline Safety Act and “even where mistakes were made” employees were “acting in good faith to provide customers with safe and reliable energy.”
Snapper also said that PG&E cooperated with investigators and handed over documents as quickly as it could.
Prosecutors have not commented on the case.
PG&E’s alleged violations were first publicized by the California Public Utilities Commission after the explosion.
Last year, the company reached a $70 million settlement with San Bruno to end the city’s claims over the accident.
The settlement came on the heels of a $50 million payment made by PG&E to cover the city’s infrastructure repair costs and other expenses caused by the blast.