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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lawsuit: PG&E Brass Ordered Documents Destroyed After San Bruno

Posted By on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 1:17 PM

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Officials with Pacific Gas and Electric Company — whose gas main blew up in San Bruno in September 2010, killing eight people and destroying a neighborhood — ordered documents destroyed after the explosion, according to a claim made in a lawsuit.

As the Chronicle reports, former PG&E official Leslie Banach McNiece was hired after the fatal blast to help PG&E sift through its records.

She claims to have discovered key documents — including a "telltale preblast analysis of the pipe" — in a garbage bin, she told federal prosecutors.

PG&E will stand trial in March in federal court on an obstruction of justice charge and for allegedly violating pipeline safety regulations.

Prosecutors say that PG&E officials knew the pipe and other major gas lines that go under the heavily-populated Bay Area were unsafe, and that the company relied on bad records to tell federal regulators that all was well.

No PG&E officials have been charged in the explosion. Only the company itself is on trial, and risks a $500 million fine.

According to prosecutors. McNiece was hired in April 2012 to sort out PG&E's records — which were in such disarray that the company at one time had to use a parking lot near the Cow Palace to lay out all its paperwork.

McNiece claims to have received "pushback" from PG&E management, as well as "specific instructions" to destory documents. 

In 2013, she discovered a document related to a faulty seam weld — the same weld that gave way in San Bruno — on the same line that later exploded stashed in a dumpster, she claims.

PG&E dismissed the claims as "financially motivated... mischaracterizations."
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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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