Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in California faces up to $3 million in criminal fines after a jury found the company guilty of five safety related felony counts. The jury found Pacific Gas guilty due to three issues: failure to identify and evaluate potential risks, failure to use the most accurate assessment methods, and failure to give the highest priority to the most serious hazards. The jury also found the utility guilty of an additional felony count of obstruction of justice. That charge stems from company officials’ attempt to derail an investigation into the September 9th, 2010, pipeline blast in San Bruno that killed 8 people, injured 58 and destroyed 38 homes. According to Safety News Alert, California State Representative Jackie Speier (whose district includes the area of the explosion) called the result “paltry” because the maximum of $3 million represents just 0.3 percent of the Pacific Gas and Electric’s $888 million profit last year.
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