Dominion Peoples fined $125,000 in Hempfield gas-line explosion
Dominion Peoples Natural Gas Co. will pay a $125,000 fine to settle a safety violations case with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission stemming from a March 2000 gas-line explosion that damaged several houses in Hempfield Township.
A PUC investigation found that Dominion committed numerous violations of the agency's gas safety regulations, including failure to mark pipelines properly and to train employees properly in its emergency procedures. The commission gave tentative approval to the settlement by a 4-1 vote at its meeting Thursday in Harrisburg.
On March 22, 2000, an excavation crew installing cable television lines for AT&T in the Hempfield Manor section of the township hit a Dominion natural gas line, causing an explosion that destroyed two homes, injured three people and caused the evacuation of 300 residences.
The settlement also included matters related to a March 15, 2000, explosion involving a Dominion line that damaged homes in Industry, Beaver County.
As part of the settlement, the gas company has agreed to implement several safety measures.
According to the PUC, Dominion will implement a program to ensure that all notices of excavation activities are evaluated and completed properly before the excavation date. It also will develop a specific procedure to monitor the accuracy and timeliness of temporary pipeline markings near the excavation site.
The company also has agreed to provide additional training for employees, including contractors responsible for conducting pipeline inspections.
A spokesman for Dominion deferred inquiries to the PUC statement regarding the settlement.
A report on the Hempfield explosion, prepared by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said that mismarked locator lines for underground utilities contributed to the line rupture. The subcontractor for the AT&T Cable Services underground cable project on Patricia Drive told OSHA that locator markings were 10 feet off the actual location of the gas line.
Several lawsuits filed by families whose homes were damaged in the explosion are pending in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court. Dominion and AT&T are among the defendants listed in the lawsuits.
Money from the fine is directed into Pennsylvania's general fund, according to a spokeswoman for the Public Utility Commission.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Zoning update raises fears in Ligonier Township
- Shenefelt of North Huntingdon accused of road rage altercation in Westmoreland
- Reputed major heroin trafficker in Westmoreland County pleads guilty, gets prison sentence
- Event gets new formal name: Shop ’n Save Westmoreland County Airshow, presented by Xcoal Energy & Resources in Latrobe
- Auction nets $20,000 from ill-gotten gain in slaying, theft from Washington County woman
- Court in the Classroom program provides insight for Norwin High School students
- Excela center proposal worries residents of Hempfield neighborhood
- $7.6M buyout at Hempfield prison site clouds sale
- Latrobe police to form DUI task force
- Baby sitter arraigned on assault charges; Hempfield woman high on heroin, state police say
- Mt. Pleasant Business District Authority picks officers