Monday, April 8, 2019

PUC Pipeline Safety Division Investigates Harrisburg House Explosion; Hershey Gas Line Hit Probe Continuing

On April 8, Safety engineers from the Pipeline Safety Division – part of the independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement for the Public Utility Commission – have begun a formal investigation into an incident that occurred the afternoon of April 5, involving an explosion and fire that destroyed a home located 1625 Sycamore St., in Harrisburg.
The focus of the pipeline safety investigation is to determine whether natural gas service was involved in the incident and whether there were any violations of state or federal pipeline safety regulations.
The investigation by the Pipeline Safety Division is being performed in addition to the fire investigation, which is being conducted by the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire.
I&E investigators thank the Harrisburg Bureau of Fire and other emergency responders for their cooperation and quick work addressing the incident.
Hershey Investigation Continues
Investigations are also ongoing, involving both the Pipeline Safety Division and the PUC Damage Prevention Committee, regarding an April 4th “hit” on a natural gas pipeline in Hershey, Derry Township, Dauphin County.
The incident resulted in the temporary evacuation of several hundred residents and the closing of numerous businesses in downtown Hershey until the damaged gas line could be repaired and gas service safely restored.
Based on preliminary information, safety engineers believe a 6-inch natural gas line was struck during work to install electrical wiring for new street lights.
The ongoing investigation by the Pipeline Safety Division is exploring the circumstances surrounding the incident and whether there are any violations of state or federal pipeline safety regulations.  
Additionally, an investigation by the Damage Prevention Committee is focused on whether all underground lines and facilities were properly located and marked; if all the necessary information about underground systems was provided to excavators; and if contractors followed proper procedures when digging around underground lines.
Reporting Pipeline Safety Incidents
The Pipeline Safety Division encourages residents and businesses to understand how to recognize and report unusual events involving those gas lines and pipelines – including the sounds, smells and sights of possible leaks.
If you suspect a leak, call 9-1-1 or local emergency responders and the pipeline operator from a safe location.
The DPC – which is an integral part of I&E – is focused on a reduction in the number of “hits” on underground utilities.
State law requires contractors and residents to contact the PA One Call Program at least three business days prior to excavation – triggering alerts to all utilities within an intended digging area and prompting utilities to mark where their facilities are located.
Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the One Call system, while out-of-state residents or businesses can call 1-800-242-1776.
The DPC meets regularly to review alleged violations of the One Call Law and makes determinations as to the appropriate response including, but not limited to, the issuance of warning letters or administrative penalties.
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