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.”