2011 gas explosion settlement includes $500,000 fine

Allentown Pennsylvania natural gas explosion

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission decided to fine the state's largest gas utility UGI Corp $500,000 for a natural gas explosion in 2011 that killed five people in Allentown. The Associated Press said the commission voted unanimously on the fine, which is the maximum civil penalty allowed by law, according to a statement on the commission's website

“We want to emphasize that UGI's compliance history related to gas safety issues is patently unacceptable,” the statement said. “This is the eighth time in slightly more than four years that this commission has adjudicated a matter containing allegations of gas safety violations by a UGI-owned gas distribution utility. This goes beyond cause for concern; it is downright alarming.”

The fine is part of a settlement with the utility, which also calls for the company to replace all cast-iron natural gas pipelines within 14 years and improve its testing and monitoring program. The AP reported the 2011 explosion was caused by a crack in a cast-iron gas main. The blast destroyed a pair of rowhouses and set fire to a block of homes in Allentown. It took utility workers five hour to reach the 12-inch main and patch the crack, stopping the flow of gas.

Electricity distribution is explored at PennEnergy's research area.

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