UGI agrees to pay $386,000 penalty for Allentown gas explosion
UGI has proposed a settlement with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission over the deadly Allentown gas explosion. The utility company is offering to pay a penalty and speed up the replacement of its pipes.
In February 2011, a natural gas explosion leveled 8 homes and killed five people at the corner of 13th and Allen Streets in Allentown.
On Wednesday, UGI released its terms to settle following that explosion. In the settlement, the company says it will speed up replacing its cast iron pipes. Originally, UGI said it would take 40 years. Now, this settlement offers do to do it in 14.
UGI has also agreed to pay a $386,000 civil penalty, and enhance its testing and monitoring programs.
State Senator Lisa Boscola has been pushing for changes after the blast. She said, "Hey look, I appreciate that they moved forward a great deal but there's still a little bit more to do, there's a lot more to do actually."
UGI has released a statement that says, in part, "UGI believes the Joint Settlement is in the public interest, in particular, the interests of its customers, and the communities it serves. UGI knows that it is the Company's responsibility to safely deliver natural gas to our customers."
Mayor Ed Pawlowski said,“The city will take the necessary time to review the petition and determine if it meets our expectations. As I have said on numerous occasions, this is the one thing that keeps me up at night. The age of the pipelines and plans to replace them are a paramount issue for the city.”
However, some neighbors in Allentown said this settlement offer is too little, too late. Raymond Jackson said, "It's just sad that somebody has to die in order for them to go around and change the pipes."
"There were lives that were lost that we actually seen, actually neighbors and stuff and we just want to feel safe, we don’t want it to happen again," said Joel Rayes, an Allentown resident.
This UGI settlement is not a done deal. The next step is that it goes to an Administrative Law Judge who will issue a ruling to the PUC, then the PUC can accept, modify, or reject the settlement offer.
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