PUC Approves $200,000 Civil Penalty, Settlement With UGI In 2011 Explosion

June 2013, Vol. 240, No. 6

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved a settlement with UGI Utilities Inc. that included a $200,000 civil penalty, which stemmed from an investigation into an Oct. 31, 2011 explosion in Millersville that caused $450,000 in damages to a home and business.

The Commission voted, 5-0, to approve the settlement, which, in addition to the civil penalty, included changes to the company’s’ practices and procedures to ensure that work crews were re-trained regarding emergency protocol and receive additional education on excavation.

“This case illustrates the importance of both facility-owners and excavators meeting their obligations under the PA One Call Act,” said PUC Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr. ‘In Pennsylvania, third-party line hits of underground utility facilities have been and continue to be the leading cause of damage to utility infrastructure.”

In addition to the civil penalty, UGI will:
• Re-train its line locators and improve its response procedures
• Enhance its internal line location screening system to generate an email to a local office to increase communication with the digging party
• Reclassify certain valves when they are reconnected to the distribution system;
• Audit certain valves to make sure they are properly classified
• Improve response timing and information about the location valves
• Provide additional training for its first responders
• Enhance communication with other utilities

According to the complaint, a contractor struck and ruptured a UGI gas main. However, the complaint cited UGI for failing to properly mark its underground facilities and to have procedures in place to locate lines. It also said appropriate measures were not in place to address damage prevention, to inspect a shut-off valve in a timely matter or to shut down the gas line quickly enough.