US Attacks PG&E Maps|as Criminal Trial Closes

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Pacific Gas and Electric rested its defense on Friday after a federal prosecutor debunked the company’s final exhibits as gimmicks manufactured to mask the company’s criminal culpability.
On the last day of witness testimony, PG&E showed the jury maps of pipelines surrounded by clusters of blue dots representing where its employees lived in relation to gas pipelines in 2010.
The maps were presented to bolster PG&E’s argument that because its employees live close to gas lines, they would never knowingly and willfully violate pipeline safety laws as the government claims.
PG&E faces 12 counts of violating recordkeeping and testing requirements under the U.S. Pipeline Safety Act and one count of obstructing an investigation of the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood.
While interviewing a PG&E employee who helped create the exhibits, defense attorney Kate Dyer showed the jury maps of Daly City, Fremont, Hayward, Sunnyvale, Walnut Creek and Watsonville with pipelines surrounded by blue dots.
“That’s where your grandma lives in Daly City?” Dyer asked the witness, PG&E employee Calvin Lui, who testified earlier in the trial as a prosecution witness.
Lui said his grandmother lives in Daly City and that he also has family in Fremont, where another gas line runs underground.
On cross-examination, U.S. Assistant Attorney Hallie Hoffman asked Lui if he ever created a map showing how many people live near pipe segments with active manufacturing threats, triggered by PG&E’s over-pressurization of pipelines.
Lui said he never created such maps.
“So for the purpose of litigation, a map was made,” Hoffman said. “But for the purpose of tracking where manufacturing threats were made unstable, maps were not made?”
Hoffman pulled up a spreadsheet showing mile points where PG&E exceeded its maximum operating pressure on Line 153 and asked Lui to identify those spots on the map.
Lui said he could not pinpoint those spots were on the map.
Hoffman then read through a list of occupation titles for PG&E employees whose homes were added to the maps. The job titles included computer clerk, intern and workers’ compensation representative.
“Can you show me the dots representing where a person lives who decides when a manufacturing threat becomes unstable?” Hoffman asked. “Can you show me dots for employees who decide what assessments to use on pipelines? Can you show me dots for people tasked with maintaining pressure records?
Lui said he could not identify those dots on the map.
After Hoffman ended her inquiry, PG&E defense attorneys declined to ask Lui further questions and rested their case.
Lui was PG&E’s third defense witness, following David Harrison, who testified on the company’s strength-pressure test records on Thursday and Friday.
Federal prosecutors rested their case on Wednesday after presenting their final witness, National Transportation Safety Board accident investigator Ravindra Chhatre.
If convicted on all counts, the utility company faces a $562 million fine on top of the $1.6 billion penalty it was hit with last year by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Closing arguments for the criminal trial are expected to begin on Tuesday morning, July 26.

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