A federal judge on Tuesday found Pacific Gas & Electric Company guilty of violating pipeline safety regulations prior to a 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion and then obstructing investigators about how the company was identifying its high-risk pipelines.
The jurors convicted PG&E of obstruction and 11 counts of pipeline safety violations, which included the failure to gather information to evaluate potential gas line threats and deliberately not classifying a gas line as high risk.
A judge could fine PG&E up to $3 million for the convictions once the company is sentenced. No individual has been charged, so no one is facing prison time.
PG&E pleaded not guilty and said its employees did the best they could with ambiguous regulations that were difficult to understand.
Prosecutors originally pursued a fine of $562 million from the company during deliberations but unexpectedly dropped the fine to a maximum of $6 million a few days ago, causing critics to believe prosecutors were not holding the company accountable.
Investigators have blamed the explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno, California to be a result of PG&E’s incomplete and inaccurate pipeline record-keeping.