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PG&E To Pay $17M In Fines For East Bay Safety Violations

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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (CBS SF) — The California Public Utilities Commission confirmed Thursday that PG&E will be fined nearly $17 million for irregularities in the utility’s gas pipeline safety testing in Contra Costa County.

In January, the CPUC issued a $16.76 million citation for the utility’s failure to conduct gas safety tests on more than 13 miles of gas distribution pipelines in several cities in Contra Costa County, including Danville, Antioch, Pittsburg and Concord.

Some stretches of pipeline had not been tested for leaks since 1993, a violation of federal and state pipeline safety regulations, according to the CPUC.

PG&E appealed the citation in February.

The appeal was denied by a CPUC administrative law judge, and the CPUC on Thursday re-ordered the utility to pay the citation.

PG&E executive vice president for gas operations Nick Stavropoulos issued a statement saying that the missed leak surveys were self-reported, and that PG&E did not disagree with the safety violations, just the “excessive” amount of money the utility was ordered to pay.

“PG&E understands that when we make a mistake, we own up,” Stavropoulos said. “As we stated in our appeal, we believe the penalty amount is excessive because we did the right thing by promptly self-reporting the violation.”

Stavropoulos went on to say that PG&E has “dramatically stepped up” its efforts to make sure that its operations and equipment are tested and safe, in the Bay Area and throughout PG&E’s service area.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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