DA settles with PG&E over 2014 leak, illnesses

The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office reached civil settlement with PG&E over gas leak in February 2014 that caused illnesses at a nearby school, according to the California District Attorney’s Association.

In the settlement PG&E will pay $250,000 in fines. The company has a market cap of $31.28 billion.

According to the statement:

The San Benito County District Attorney’s Office recently reached a civil settlement with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, which was approved by the San Benito County Superior Court on January 27, 2017.

The case relates to PG&E’s gas distribution facility in Hollister, where on three days in February of 2014, for various reasons, PG&E is alleged to have discharged methane gas to the air during its pipeline integrity testing process. The District Attorney alleged that on these occasions, PG&E failed to take adequate measures to notify neighbors and students at the then-adjacent Hollister Seventh Day Adventist School of the gas venting, and as a result, some students fell ill and class schedules had to be altered.

The settlement includes, among other things, an injunction forbidding similar violations of law, $175,000.00 in imposed civil penalties and costs, stayed penalties in the amount of $75,000, and the requirement of a new internal Gas Outreach Guide to serve as a written policy for notification of surrounding communities prior to similar gas venting activities. In addition to this settlement, to further protect the community, PG&E elected to fund the relocation of the Hollister Seventh Day Adventist School to a site away from its gas distribution facility.

The District Attorney Candice Hooper referred the case to the Circuit Prosecutor Project at the California District Attorneys Association for prosecution, whose attorneys, Matthew Carr and Kelly McDaniel, worked to resolve the case at no cost to the county. The case was investigated and initially referred to the District Attorney by the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District. A copy of the complaint and settlement agreement are attached to this press release.

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