Jun 23, 2011 4:14 PM by Gene Cotton

Prosecutor: Xcel knew about hazardous conditions

DENVER (AP) - The federal government says Xcel Energy knew about hazardous conditions inside a Colorado tunnel where five workers died in 2007 and violated safety regulations by ignoring them.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena made the claim Thursday during closing arguments in Xcel's trial in Denver. He said one violation was failing to come up with a rescue plan.

Xcel's attorney, Cliff Stricklin, told jurors the company followed the law and the contractor that employed the workers was responsible for their safety.

Minneapolis-based Xcel and a subsidiary face five counts of violating federal safety regulations. Five workers from California died as a result of smoke inhalation when a fire trapped them inside a tunnel near Georgetown, about 40 miles west of Denver.

Jurors got the case Thursday afternoon after nearly four hours of arguments.



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