Monday, October 2, 2023

PUC: Focus Of Natural Gas Explosion In Port Richmond Section Of Philadelphia Now Inside The Buildings

On October 2, the
Public Utility Commission reported there is no evidence public utility natural gas equipment was the cause of the home explosions in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia on New Years Day 2023.

To date, the Commission’s independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Safety Division has not found any evidence that public utility equipment caused the event, but that investigation remains active and ongoing. 

Additionally, the Safety Division continues to work closely with the Philadelphia Fire Marshal and is assisting with the ongoing review of events and equipment downstream of the utility’s natural gas meter inside the buildings, which remain the focus of this investigation but are outside the scope of the PUC’s jurisdiction.

Miller Street Incident Overview

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, on Jan. 1, 2023, pipeline safety engineers responded to the scene of a reported explosion in the 3500 block of Miller Street in Philadelphia that destroyed three homes, damaged numerous surrounding homes and buildings and injured several residents.   

While initial firefighting and recovery efforts were underway, investigators from the Safety Division began gathering preliminary information from residents, responders, and utilities around that location. 

After the initial fire and rescue activities concluded, safety engineers began a more detailed investigation at the site – working alongside other agencies who also responded to the incident.

The investigation by pipeline safety engineers included detailed interviews with Philadelphia Natural Gas Works employees, first responders and residents; the extensive examination of physical jurisdictional evidence after the incident scene and surrounding structures were made safe and debris removed; the detailed review of utility operational records; the monitoring of service restorations and repairs around the incident site; and other observations by expert engineers. 

Leak surveys of two PGW natural gas mains and services located in the street did not identify natural gas leaks in the vicinity of the explosion and no integrity concerns were discovered on the service lines in the area.  

Testing of other PGW facilities around the incident site, including meters, is continuing, as is the analysis of natural gas passing through the meter immediately prior to the incident.

The Safety Division continues to investigate all jurisdictional assets and data.

It is important to note that I&E investigations are limited – by regulation – to the involvement of, or impact from, utilities and utility systems under the jurisdiction of the PUC, along with natural gas transported by those assets. 

I&E does not have jurisdiction to investigate items, events, or piping beyond the outlet of a service meter within a structure.

Click Here for the complete announcement.


-- TribLive: Car Rally Held To Raise Money For Rustic Ridge Families Impacted By Home Explosion, Fires In Allegheny County

PA Oil & Gas Industry Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 -- Company Tries To Limit DEP Investigation; Unauthorized Water Withdrawals; Can’t Pay For Reno Cleanup; Venting Gas Wells; More Abandoned Conventional Wells  [PaEN] 

        -- Repsol Gas USA Issued Violation For Denying DEP Right To Document Damaged Shale Gas Well Casing During Investigation Of Uncontrolled Gas Venting In Bradford County  [PaEN]

        -- DEP Issues Violation To CNX Gas Company For Unauthorized Water Withdrawals For 17 Days From Beaver Run Reservoir In Westmoreland County  [PaEN]

        -- Petro Erie Inc. Again Claims It Lacks The Financial Ability To Comply With DEP’s 2nd Order To Cleanup Conventional Oil Well Wastewater Spill That Contaminated The Village Of Reno’s Water Supply In Venango County  [PaEN]

        -- Environmental Hearing Board Will Hear Key Arguments On Appeal By A Washington County Family Alleging Shale Gas Drilling Contaminated Their Water Supply With PFAS And Other Chemicals  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - October 7   [PaEN]

        -- DEP Invites Comments On PA General Energy Constructing 3 Shale Natural Gas, Water Pipelines Thru Exceptional Value, High Quality, Wild Trout Streams In Lycoming County  [PaEN] 

        -- DEP Now Accepting Comments On 2 Proposed Olympus Energy Water Withdrawal Structures At Beaver Run Reservoir To Support Shale Gas Development In Westmoreland County  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 69 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In October 7 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]  

NewsClips This Week - Shale Gas:

-- WPXI: Activists, Washington County Residents Concerned After Study Explores Link Between Natural Gas Development, Cancer

-- Orphan Conventional Oil & Gas Wells Hard To Plug, Despite Influx Of Federal Dollars In PA, OH

-- JD Supra: Repurposing Oil & Gas Wells For Ground-Sourced Heat Energy In PA Raises Multiple Legal Issues

-- AP: PA Chocolate Factory Fined For Failing To Evacuate Before Fatal Natural Gas Explosion

-- TribLive: Car Rally Held To Raise Money For Rustic Ridge Families Impacted By Home Explosion, Fires In Allegheny County

-- TribLive: At 16%, Westmoreland County Tops Local Population Loss Estimates  

-- Post-Gazette: Study: Westmoreland County Will Lead Population Decline In Western PA, While Others Will Boom

-- PA Capital-Star: Population Projections Highlight Need For Long-Term Solutions To Sustain Rural PA Communities; Population Expected To Shrink By 5.8% 

-- Forbes: How One Contrarian Company [Mostly Conventional Oil & Gas Well Owner Diversified Energy] Thrives In A Shale And Gas World  [Check The Company’s Compliance Record In PA ]

-- WOSU: The State Of Natural Gas Development/Fracking In Ohio 

-- Observer-Reporter: DEP Secretary To Be Featured Speaker At Washington & Jefferson Hydrogen Seminar

-- TribLive: Columbia Gas Tests Hydrogen Blends In Natural Gas Appliances

-- Reuters: Equitrans Reaches Agreement With US Regulator For Mountain Valley Pipeline For Inspections, Integrity Testing, Among Other Measures

Related Articles This Week:

-- House Unanimously Passes Bill Against Lawsuits Aimed At Silencing Citizen Critics And Dampening Public Participation  [PaEN]

-- Dickinson College Environmental & Indigenous Rights Honoree Tara Houska: Don’t Disconnect Yourself From The Reality Of Nature; Endless Expansion Of Pipelines Have No Place In Reality; Find Powerful Moments Of Joy  [PaEN]

-- DEP Updates Location Of Scranton Public Hearing On Interim Final Environmental Justice Permit Review Policy  [PaEN]

-- Member Of Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group Briefs DCNR Advisory Council On Siting Of Shale Gas Well Pad On State Forest Land To Accommodate Taking Gas From Private Land In Tioga County  [PaEN]

-- Agencies Celebrate Eastern Hellbender License Plate Recognizing PA’s Clean Water Ambassador; Shale Gas Development On DCNR Land Threatens Habitat  [PaEN]

-- DCNR Announces Appointment Of Seth Cassell As Pennsylvania's 18th State Forester  [PaEN]

-- The Allegheny Front: Three Rivers Waterkeeper Citizen Monitoring Finds Plastics Maker Styrenics LLC Discharging Plastic Nurdles Into Ohio River, Threatens Lawsuit To Stop Them  - By Reid Frazier  [PaEN]

-- PUC: Focus Of Natural Gas Explosion In Port Richmond Section Of Philadelphia Now Inside The Buildings  [PaEN]

-- Center For Rural Pennsylvania: Rural Population To Shrink 5.8%; Fewer Young People, More Older People; Current Policies Failed To Sustain Communities, Ensure Long-Term Rural Resiliency  [PaEN]

-- PA Interfaith Power & Light 10th Annual Conference- No Faith In Fossil Fuels - Nov. 5: Virtual Keynote & Panel Discussion, 5 Regional Workshop Locations  [PaEN]

-- Washington & Jefferson College Hosts Oct. 17 In-Person Harnessing Hydrogen: Exploring Local & Regional Opportunities In Appalachia Program  [PaEN]

[Posted: October 2, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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