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PG&E lied to regulators after San Bruno blast, new indictment alleges

PG&E lied to regulators after San Bruno blast, new indictment alleges
In this file photo, firefighters check for hot spots in the rubble of homes along Claremont Drive in San Bruno, Calif., where a large underground natural gas pipeline exploded in 2010. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Pacific Gas & Electric was charged Tuesday with lying to regulators during the immediate aftermath of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and ravaged a San Bruno, Calif., neighborhood.

The new indictment includes obstruction charges related to what the company said about its records immediately after the incident, according to a release from the Northern District of California U.S. attorney's office. The filing comes three months after an April indictment claimed that PG&E violated federal pipeline safety laws.

The additional charges in the new indictment create the possibility of more than $1 billion in fines, the Associated Press reported.

In addition to the obstruction, PG&E allegedly "failed to address record-keeping deficiencies concerning its larger natural gas pipelines knowing that their records were inaccurate or incomplete," according to the release. In addition, the company is accused of not properly investigating threats to pipelines when they were identified.

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According to the AP, the utility had announced in June it was expecting additional charges to be filed.

"However, based on all of the evidence we have seen to date, we do not believe that the charges are warranted and that, even where mistakes were made, employees were acting in good faith to provide customers with safe and reliable energy," a spokesman told the AP in a statement.

On Monday, San Bruno city officials alleged regulators and the utility improperly communicated in the aftermath of the explosion.

Times staff writer Robert Lopez contributed to this report.

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