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Court upholds GDF manslaughter conviction


DIJON, France— A French court has rejected an appeal by Gaz de France of its criminal conviction for negligence in a fatal 1999 gas pipeline explosion in the eastern city of Dijon.

The appeal court decision in late December upheld the original Dijon chamber's March 2006 judgment which imposed a € 204,500 fine on the Paris-based energy company for involuntary manslaughter and injuries.

The December 4, 1999 explosion was caused a ruptured gas pipe; a four-story apartment building collapsed killing 11 and injuring three.

The original conviction found that GDF had failed in its general responsibility to maintain operational safety. It ruled that, at the time of the accident, GDF was negligent in continuing to use outdated gray cast iron pipes that did not meet modern standards and that it had failed to establish a program to replace these pipes.

The court also said that GDF was using incorrect maps of its pipe networks and lacked an effective gas-detection system.