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Pacific Gas Gets Subpoena From U.S. Over March Blast

PG&E Corp. said it got a subpoena from U.S. prosecutors investigating a natural gas explosion that severely damaged a vacant California house in March while workers were upgrading a pipeline nearby.

Gas escaped from a steel pipe undergoing work by a welder and seeped through a sewer into the home in Carmel, according to the company. A firm hired by PG&E found the explosion was caused by inadequate verification of “system status and configuration when performing work on a live line,” the company said in a regulatory filing last month.

The U.S. attorney in San Francisco sent a subpoena for information related to the incident, Greg Snapper, a PG&E spokesman, said by e-mail, without giving details of the request.

California utility regulators and Carmel fire and police officials are also investigating, the company has said. PG&E said it implemented enhanced safety procedures after the blast.

PG&E’s Pacific Gas utility pleaded not guilty this week to obstructing a federal investigation of a 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno, a San Francisco suburb. The company also pleaded not guilty to 27 charges of violating federal pipeline safety rules that prosecutors said contributed to the San Bruno blast.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hallie Hoffman said at an Aug. 18 court hearing about the San Bruno case that a new grand jury investigation of the San Francisco-based company’s gas division was under way.

Lili ArauzHaase, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in San Francisco, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment on the Carmel investigation.

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