PGW ordered to pay $500,000 in explosion settlement

A gas ex­plo­sion killed on PGW work­er on Tues­day Jan. 18 in Ta­cony.

The Phil­adelphia Gas Works will pay a $500,000 pen­alty to settle a 334-count state com­plaint stem­ming from a 2011 fatal ex­plo­sion in Ta­cony.

The set­tle­ment an­nounced last week by the Pennsylvania Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion will re­quire PGW to pay $400,000 to the state and con­trib­ute $100,000 to the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment’s smoke alarm pro­gram.

In Decem­ber 2011, the PUC charged the Gas Works vi­ol­ated state and fed­er­al reg­u­la­tions in the way its em­ploy­ees handled a Jan. 18, 2011, gas leak on the 6900 block of Tor­res­dale Ave.

PGW em­ploy­ee Mark Kee­ley, 19, of Fox Chase, on the job just four months, was killed in a blast at 6932 Tor­res­dale Ave. Four oth­er util­ity work­ers and a fire­man were in­jured. The Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment in March de­term­ined the ex­plo­sion was caused by a fur­nace turn­ing on in the base­ment, which ig­nited nat­ur­al gas that had leaked out of a high-pres­sure main.

Chief among the mis­steps lis­ted in the PUC com­plaint were:

• PGW didn’t grant per­mis­sion to close valves to isol­ate the leak un­til 51 minutes after a su­per­visor had called for pres­sure re­duc­tion.

• “PGW failed to take the re­quired steps to min­im­ize the danger of ac­ci­dent­al ig­ni­tion of gas in an area where the pres­ence of gas con­sti­tuted a haz­ard of fire or ex­plo­sion.” 

• “PGW at no time re­ques­ted that PECO En­ergy shut off elec­tric power to 6932 Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue in or­der to elim­in­ate all sources of ig­ni­tion.” 

Later in the com­plaint, the PUC stated, PGW “failed to reas­on­ably pro­tect the pub­lic from danger.” 

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