Editorial: Roll heads at PGW

Sunday is not likely to be a par­tic­u­larly merry Christ­mas for Mark Kee­ley’s loved ones, thanks to what ap­pears to be fatal in­ept­ness by Phil­adelphia Gas Works em­ploy­ees.

Mr. Kee­ley, a PGW em­ploy­ee, was on the job for just four months last Janu­ary when he was killed in an ex­plo­sion in Ta­cony. The 19-year-old and oth­er work­ers were in­vest­ig­at­ing re­ports of a gas leak in a build­ing on Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue when the blast happened.

A scath­ing re­port just re­leased by the Pennsylvania Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion cites PGW for a whop­ping 334 vi­ol­a­tions of state and fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions.

The in­frac­tions were not trivi­al stuff like work­ers mak­ing per­son­al phone calls on com­pany time; rather, they in­volved key is­sues, in­clud­ing wait­ing too long to close gas valves, fail­ing to ask the elec­tric com­pany to shut ser­vice at the site of the gas leak, fail­ing to re­pair a gas shut-off valve that had been re­por­ted broken at the site six months earli­er, and fail­ing to con­duct post-ac­ci­dent drug test­ing for em­ploy­ees who were at the scene.

A PGW spokes­man says the util­ity has not fined or dis­cip­lined any em­ploy­ees.

Why on earth not?

Any and all PGW em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing su­per­visors, whose ac­tions con­trib­uted to the tragedy must be held ac­count­able, and that means they should lose their jobs and pen­sions and be fined.

Oth­er util­ity com­pan­ies — in­deed, all busi­nesses big and small — must un­der­stand that they will pay a heavy price when they break safety rules.

Rules and reg­u­la­tions ex­ist for good reas­on and ap­ply to every­body, not just people who like them. One way to get that point across is to hit of­fend­ers where it hurts — in the wal­let. ••

Send let­ters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at staff@bsmphilly.com.

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