Opening statements set to begin in pipeline blast trial

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Attorneys for the government and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will begin presenting their cases in a criminal trial alleging the utility giant obstructed investigators after a deadly pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.

After several days of jury selection, opening statements are scheduled to start Friday in federal court in San Francisco.

A PG&E natural gas pipeline exploded in the city of San Bruno six years ago in a disaster that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

During the investigation that followed, prosecutors say the San Francisco-based utility misled federal officials about how it was identifying high-risk pipelines.

PG&E has pleaded not guilty and said its employees did not intentionally violate pipeline safety laws or obstruct an investigation. The company faces a $562 million fine if convicted.