Testimony in the federal criminal trial against PG&E concluded Wednesday, and the prosecutor in the case didn't go out without some scathing rebukes of the company's mismanagement and greed that led to the 2010 San Bruno gas main explosion that claimed the lives of eight people and destroyed 38 homes. As the Chronicle reports, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Schenk said in closing arguments, "For years they trained engineers to act more as businesspeople than as engineers. The motive was profit over safety.” He also said it was a company that had "lost its way" that made inspection decisions "for financial, not technical, reasons."
PG&E's lead attorney in the case, Steven Bauer, called the six-year federal investigation "an elaborate second-guessing exercise." He also argued, "We have to manage these pipes in reality, not against some ideal standard that no one has ever lived up to,” and described PG&E employees as “decent people doing their job the best they could."
As KRON 4 notes, "Schenk reminded the jury, however, that PG&E is not on trial for causing the explosion, but rather for allegedly misleading the NTSB about its testing policy and violating the safety law requirements."
Previously in the trial, the prosecution presented an internal document from the company from 2008 showing a list of five “Corporate Business Priorities,” the fifth and last of which was safety. The first: earnings per share.
Having already paid a $1.4 billion fine for the explosion to the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E will be on the hook for another $562 million in fines if they're found guilty of all criminal charges in this case.
Jurors were set to begin deliberations today after the conclusion of the defense's closing arguments.