PG&E to Pay $38M Fine in ’08 Calif. Gas Explosion

November 10, 2011

PG&E Corp. has agreed to pay a $38 million fine for a 2008 gas pipe explosion that killed a Rancho Cordova homeowner.

It’s the largest safety-related fine ever levied by the California Public Utilities Commission.

PG&E and state regulators initially agreed to a $26 million fine. But a judge recommended a higher penalty, citing the “severity and gravity” of PG&E’s failures.

Investigators found that PG&E had installed the wrong gas pipe and was slow in responding to leak reports on Christmas Eve 2008. Seventy-two-year-old Wilbert Paana was killed and five others were injured.

PG&E reached an undisclosed, out-of-court settlement with Paana’s family in 2009.

PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson told the Sacramento Bee that the company agreed to the fine last month and also will make a number of procedural improvements.

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