Casey Urges Quick Answers, Open and Transparent Investigation from UGI After Millersville Gas Explosion
October 31 Blast Evacuated 100 and Destroyed Two-Story Building, but Questions Remain after Nearly Three Weeks
Friday, November 18, 2011
Casey Calls on UGI to Better Explain Cause of Blast to Residents and Prevent Future Dangers
WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today called on the UGI utility company to better explain to residents the cause of an October 31st gas pipeline explosion that destroyed a two-story building and evacuated nearly 100 homes. Nearly three weeks after the explosion, questions still remain as to why the explosion took place and what is being done to prevent similar incidents in the future.
“The recent explosion in Millersville was disturbing, and UGI owes residents an open and transparent investigation into the cause of the explosion and an explanation of what’s being done to stop this from happening again,” Senator Casey said. “After nearly three weeks, the answers that UGI has given residents have been wholly inadequate. Making sure residents know why this happened and taking action to ensure it will never happen again must be UGI’s top priorities.”
Around noon on October 31, Verizon contractors were digging to bury fiber optic cables and struck a gas line. Firefighters were called to the area and began evacuating approximately 100 homes and businesses because of the strong smell of the gas. Witnesses said the gas was very intense and could be seen coming out of storm grates. No one was injured when the gas ignited, but the blast destroyed a two-story building in the area that housed a business along with a local firefighter’s apartment.
Later on the 31st, UGI crews contained the gas leak. UGI initially said it marked the gas line properly but two days later said the line was in fact not marked properly. UGI then blamed the road markings process and the construction company for the gas leak and subsequent explosion.
In his letter, Senator Casey called on UGI to quickly get the details of any investigation out to residents so they’re aware of what happened and what’s being done to prevent future problems.
Senator Casey’s letter to UGI Corporation President John Walsh is below:
Dear Mr. Walsh,
I write regarding the recent gas explosion in Millersville and urge you to conduct a thorough investigation. This explosion forced hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes and destroyed a building that housed a business and an apartment. I am very concerned that yet another gas explosion has occurred in Pennsylvania caused by pipelines operated by your company.
This incident heightens my concern about the overall safety of gas pipeline systems that UGI own and operate in Pennsylvania. It is my understanding that this accident could have been prevented and occurred due to an improperly marked line. I respectfully request a full briefing regarding causes of the explosion including plans UGI is taking to prevent future accidents like this as soon as possible.
I would also urge you to speed up the process of replacing cast-iron pipelines to help minimize these incidents in the future. Pennsylvania has the fourth highest number of miles cast-iron pipelines in the nation and these aging pipe lines represent a serious danger to the people of Pennsylvania. The safety of my constituents is of paramount concern to me. I am committed to doing everything I can to prevent incidents like this from occurring again.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senate