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.
[jump] 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.”