PG&E Criminal Trial for San Bruno Blast Delayed

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge Thursday agreed to postpone the criminal trial of Pacific Gas and Electric for the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson granted PG&E’s request to vacate the April 26 trial date and declined to set a new date.
PG&E asked for the extension on April 15, saying it needed more time to sift through 110,000 pages of documents the federal government turned over on April 11.
PG&E attorney Kate Dyer said the documents, which had been withheld as privileged, go to “the heart of the case” because they shed light on the ambiguity of safety regulations PG&E is accused of violating.
The papers documents interpretations of safety regulations by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Both agencies agreed to disclose the papers this month under a protective order.
The government opposed the continuance, calling the delay unnecessary because the newly disclosed papers fall outside the scope of discovery and should not take an extra six to eight weeks to review.
“I do not dispute that this is incredibly inconvenient to everyone concerned, but if we received these at the time the court ordered them, we would have reviewed them by now,” Dyer told the judge on Thursday.
Dyer asked for an extra seven to eight weeks to allow PG&E to review the documents and to work out its remaining discovery disputes with the government.
Henderson ordered both parties to return to court on Thursday, April 28, to update him on their progress.
The pipeline explosion in San Bruno on Sept. 9, 2010, killed eight people, injured at least 66, leveled 38 homes and damaged many more.
PG&E faces 12 counts of violating the U.S. Pipeline Safety Act and one count of obstructing an investigation of the explosion.

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