SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A published report suggests that Pacific Gas and Electric had a policy in place encouraging workers to essentially overlook safety risks along natural gas transmission lines, thus keeping repair costs for the utility down.
According to the results of a San Francisco Chronicle investigation, published by the paper, the utility handed out bonuses to supervisors whose crews found fewer leaks in natural gas pipelines.
Complaints about the leak incentive system from three whistle blowers led to an internal company audit in 2008. Ultimately, the program was halted.
KCBS’ Betsy Gebhart Reports:
“I’ve seen this before in other companies,” offered independent pipeline safety expert Richard Kuprewicz, who reviewed the report. “It’s a very dangerous process to have. It actually rewards people who do the wrong thing. That’s a position you don’t want to be in in a major company, especially if you’re handling material like natural gas.”
A PG&E spokesman said the old – and now defunct – policy was never intended to be used as an actual incentive to find fewer leaks.
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