Cause(s) of House Explosion in Greene Co. PA Elusive

by Duane Nichols on December 22, 2018

House exploded in Greene County on Halloween! WHY?

Site of southwestern Pennsylvania house explosion a complicated laboratory for gas analysis

From an Article by Anya Litvak, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, December 20, 2018

Each day since a house in Clarksville exploded on Halloween, a Peoples Natural Gas worker has visited the home’s hollowed shell to monitor for signs of leaking gas.

Some days it’s there at a “highly elevated level,” said Barry Kukovich, a spokesman for the North Side utility. Others it isn’t.

State regulators and several gas companies with wells and pipes in the area are still sorting through clues about whose gas leaked into that Greene County home before the explosion.

Many gas samples have been taken and analyzed and investigators for the state Public Utility Commission are preparing to excavate several areas around the site for still more sampling, according to PUC spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen.

With a dense soup of coal and gas infrastructure in the area, the investigation can take months, Mr. Hagen-Frederiksen warned.

Beyond pinpointing the source of the gas — “the what” as he called it — the PUC also wants to know “the why.” “Is this an isolated thing or is this a symptom of a broader problem,” Mr. Hagen-Frederiksen said. “And if so, what is necessary to address that.”

Morgan Township in Greene County is a complicated laboratory.

Within a half-mile radius of the burned down house is a well pad with five horizontal Marcellus wells, four gas storage wells that plunge down to a storage field underlying the area, and three other old gas wells. In addition, two inactive coal mines meet below the property and at least three pipelines also fall within the half-mile ring.

Investigators are analyzing gas samples from these features to match their signature to the gas detected at the site of the explosion. But the fact that all this infrastructure is so close together could mean gas from one source gets mixed with gas from another, confounding the analysis.

For example, the gas that Peoples delivers to area homes is sourced from local Marcellus Shale wells, like the ones on EQT Corp.’s Hildebrand well pad across the street from the former home of Mike and Lora White.

Peoples shut off its distribution line to the home on the day of the accident, when Cody White turned on a stove burner and the house he shared with his parents, his girlfriend and their young son went up in flames. Mr. White, and his girlfriend and child were airlifted to a hospital burn unit. According to updates on Facebook fundraising sites, they were released shortly after and are all doing well.

Peoples said that its gas line has been shut off since the accident and that a pressure test of it the day after the blast revealed no leaks.

EQT is also doing an internal investigation, said spokeswoman Linda Robertson.

“Although we are still awaiting results of some of the tests, to date there has been no evidence to indicate the accident resulted from an issue with an EQT production well or pipeline,” she said, including the company’s gas storage field in that assessment.

The PA Department of Environmental Protection, which along with federal pipeline regulators and the fire marshall, is involved in the investigation, also found the nearby storage wells and associated pipelines to be in good shape, according to inspection reports done in early November.

Mr. Hagen-Frederiksen said that while the investigation may stretch on for a while — the last time the PUC investigated a house explosion, it took more than a year to memorialize its findings — the area of the explosion continues to be monitored daily to collect data and to protect public safety.

A log-cabin house near the blast site that was evacuated after high gas readings were detected there remains empty. It is also being surveyed daily.

SEE ALSO THE ORIGINAL STORY: Anya Litvak: Gas explosion levels a house in Greene County

State Impact Pennsylvania —- Your Guide to Pipelines

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FOX News 59 December 31, 2018 at 3:21 pm

Natural gas leak determined to be cause of Carmel High School explosion that hurt two (2)

Posted by Kyle Hicks and Melissa Crash, FOX News 59, Indianapolis, December 27, 2018

CARMEL, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has determined that a natural gas leak was the cause of an explosion at Carmel High School on Wednesday.

IDHS said Thursday that it appears the gas was ignited when a maintenance worker and contractor were doing routine services on two boilers on the school’s second floor. Officials don’t believe there was any boiler malfunction.

The city’s fire department says the workers were both injured in the blast and one suffered severe burns. Both were transported to Eskenazi Hospital for treatment.

Carmel Clay Schools says there were about 100 students at the school at the time of the explosion, but none were hurt during the incident. They were evacuated to the stadium locker rooms, where they reunited with their parents.

All activities at the high school are canceled until further notice.

Thursday, the fire department released photos that showed the extent of the damage:

Photo Gallery — photos in original article.


KSRM Radio December 31, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Home explodes near Anchor Point, closes Sterling Highway in Alaska

An explosion on the southern Kenai Peninsula destroyed a home and sent debris onto the Sterling Highway in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An explosion on the southern Kenai Peninsula destroyed a home and sent debris onto the Sterling Highway.

Kenai radio station KSRM reports the event closed the highway Thursday night near Mile 165. Troopers in Anchor Point took a call on the explosion just after 10 p.m.

They found debris blocking the highway and discovered that a two-story home had been demolished in what appeared to be a gas explosion.

The roof of the unoccupied house flew approximately 150 to 200 yards (137 to 183 meters) across the road. Multiple callers reported damage to their homes.

Troopers say Homer Electric Association and Enstar, a natural gas company, responded to the location and secured the utilities.

The Sterling Highway reopened shortly before 4:30 a.m. Friday.


Russia: KULR News 8 December 31, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Russia: Four (4) dead in apartment collapse, 68 missing, apparent gas explosion | World News — Russia |, December 31, 2018

MOSCOW (AP) — At least four people died Monday when sections of an apartment building collapsed after an apparent gas explosion in Russia’s Ural Mountains region, officials said.

The authorities said five others were hospitalized with injuries, and 68 other residents remained unaccounted for in the accident in Magnitogorsk, a city of 400,000 about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow.

The nation’s top investigative agency, the Investigative Committee, said the collapse of a section of the ten-storey building was apparently caused by a gas leak. It happened before dawn when most residents were still asleep on the New Year’s Eve.

Nearly 1,400 rescuers were searching for those who could have been buried under debris.

Emergency workers have evacuated residents of nearby sections of the building, fearing they could also tumble down.

The Kremlin said that President Vladimir Putin has been briefed on the situation. Cabinet officials arrived in Magnitogorsk to oversee the rescue efforts.

Gas explosions in Russian homes and businesses are common, and they are usually blamed on neglect of safety rules or poor maintenance.


PG & E (California) January 3, 2019 at 10:31 pm

PG&E could face murder charges for California’s wildfires

From an Article by Paola Rosa-Aquinoon, January 1, 2019

It’s been nearly two months since the massive Camp Fire laid waste to the town of Paradise in northern California. It destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and claimed at least 86 lives, making it the deadliest fire in the state’s history. And now the state’s largest public utility provider, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. could face murder or manslaughter charges related to the blazes.

PG&E is already under investigation for criminal wrongdoing related to California’s deadly wildfires. Though investigators have not determined what officially sparked the fire, PG&E reported “an outage” on a transmission line in the area where the blaze began around the time the blazes started.

If district prosecutors find that “reckless operation” of its power equipment caused any of the state’s deadly wildfires in the past two years, the company could be held responsible for not just the resulting property damages but the loss of life as well.

“PG&E’s most important responsibility is public and workforce safety,” the utility, which provides electricity to about 16 million Californians, said in a statement. “Our focus continues to be on assessing our infrastructure to further enhance safety and helping our customers continue to recover and rebuild.”

On Friday, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra submitted a legal brief to a federal judge who is considering how the wildfires could affect PG&E’s probation from a criminal case born out a 2010 explosion at a natural gas pipeline operated by PG&E. The judge will have to gauge PG&E’s “mental state” — meaning, its employees’ degree of negligence and recklessness — before determining which charges to bring, if any.

Potential charges range from minor misdemeanors related to poor maintenance of trees along power lines to involuntary manslaughter or murder if the company is found to be the cause of the wildfires.

In addition to possible criminal charges, PG&E could be found liable for billions of dollars in civil damages. But it’s not just the company that will bear the burden of any resulting settlements. In September 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill which permitted PG&E to pass on some of the costs related to utility’s role in the 2017 wildfires on to their customers.

Reply News February 27, 2019 at 8:57 pm

Feds blame Pa. home blast on faulty natural gas line connection

From the Associated Press,, February 27, 2019

MILLERSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Federal investigators say a poorly installed natural gas connection is likely to blame for a gas explosion that killed a utility worker and destroyed two Pennsylvania homes in July 2017.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday the faulty connection let gas seep into the house in Millersville, Lancaster County.

The blast also injured three other people and caused significant damage to six nearby houses, including one that was later condemned.

Authorities say a locking sleeve used to connect the “tapping tee” to the gas main was not attached to the main.

The unattached locking sleeve put stress on four nylon bolts, and two of those bolts fractured.

A UGI Utilities employee was killed in the explosion.–20190227.html


SKY NEWS (UK) March 23, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Nearly 50 Dead in Explosion at Chinese Chemical Plant

Article by Olivia Rosane,, March 22, 2019

Aerial view of the explosion site of a chemical factory on March 22 in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province of China. Caixin Media / VCG /

At least 47 people have died in an explosion at a plant in Yancheng, China Thursday run by a chemical company with a history of environmental violations, Sky News reported.

The blast forced more than 3,000 people to evacuate the area, AFP reported. More than 600 are injured and 90 are in the hospital with serious injuries following one of the country’s worst industrial disasters in recent years. The blast from the explosion was so strong that it caused a minor earthquake and felled nearby factory buildings, trapping workers. It also blew out windows in houses around three miles away, according to Sky.

A 60-year-old woman with the last name Xiang told AFP that she had long been worried about the safety of the plant.

“We knew we’d be blown up one day,” she said.

The blast caused fires to ignite in the industrial park where the plant was located, but firefighters said they had extinguished the flames by Friday. Hundreds of rescue workers had been sent to the area, according to local authorities.

However, residents in the surrounding area, many of them elderly, said they had not received any help from the government. Some had abandoned their homes and others were sweeping up the glass from broken windows themselves.

The plant where the explosion occurred was run by the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical company, which produces more than 30 organic chemical compounds, according to Sky. In February of last year, China’s State Administration for Work Safety found 13 safety hazards at the company, including improper handling of benzene, the chemical that caused Thursday’s explosion. In total, the company had amassed 1,790,000 RMB (approximately $266,440) in fines since 2016 because of environmental violations.

The cause of Thursday’s explosion is not yet known. Chinese President Xi Jinping, currently on a state visit to Italy, urged for “all-out efforts” to rescue those still trapped in collapsed buildings and for the cause of the incident be determined “as early as possible,” AFP reported in a later article. Local authorities looking into the explosion said an undetermined number of people had been taken into custody on Friday.

Nearby residents are now concerned about the spread of pollution following the accident.

“We don’t have drinkable water here,” Xiang told AFP. “Why hasn’t the government sent us some water?”

However, local environmental agencies said that they had set up monitors around the industrial park where the accident took place, and said that strong winds looked likely to flush out toxins in the air, CNN reported.

China has suffered a spate of industrial and mining disasters in its recent history, partly because of weak safety enforcement, BBC News reported. The largest in the last few years was a 2015 explosion in Tianjin that killed more than 160 and injured almost 1,000.


Dominion Energy April 21, 2019 at 9:08 am

Dominion Energy Provides Assistance for Durham Residents Impacted by Gas Explosion

RALEIGH, N.C. – With a commitment to assist local residents and business owners who have been impacted by the gas explosion that occurred in Durham April 10, Dominion Energy has established a Claims Operations Center and Incident Response Line.

The Claims Operations Center is located at Maverick’s Smokehouse & Taproom, 900 W. Main Street, Durham, N.C.

Dominion Energy representatives are on site to provide assistance. If you have been displaced from your home because of this incident, we can assist you in securing meals and lodging. Representatives are on site until 11 p.m. April 10 and will be back on site 8 a.m. April 11.

Local residents and business owners can also call the Dominion Energy Durham Incident Response Line at 877-592-7762. The 24-hour phone line is staffed and ready to take calls. Customer Service representatives will request the following information:

Name, Address where you receive service,
Best means to contact you (primary phone number and alternate phone number or email),
Brief description of your claim/issue, including the number of family members involved in the claim.

About PSNC Energy — Headquartered in Gastonia, N.C., PSNC Energy, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Energy. The regulated public utility is franchised to serve a 28-county service area in North Carolina. The utility distributes natural gas to more than 581,000 customers in 96 cities and communities, including the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill areas in the north central part of the state; the Concord, Statesville, Gastonia, and Forest City areas in the Piedmont; and the Asheville, Hendersonville, Brevard, and Sylva areas in the western part of the state.


AP & News 9 August 1, 2019 at 6:49 am

Washington PA house explodes from natural gas leakage

From the Associated Press & WTOV News 9, July 31, 2019

WASHINGTON, Pa. — An explosion believed to have been caused by a gas leak reduced a Washington County home to a pile of rubble and sent at least four people to the hospital.
The (Washington) Observer-Reporter reports that the blast just before 4 p.m. Wednesday near a high school in North Franklin Township was widely felt around the area.

Christi Frauenholz, of Canton, Ohio, whose husband was working at the nearby Washington & Jefferson College, said she and others “were about knocked off our feet.” Rushing to the scene, she found a woman who had escaped sitting on a neighbor’s steps, “bleeding from the ears and head” but able to walk to an ambulance.

The people who lived in the home reportedly smelled gas and were able to get out before the blast.

Columbia Gas said service was cut to about 60 customers as a precaution.

Conditions of the victims have not been made available. Officials said at least two of the five people injured are first responders. They were all taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Investigators are actively surveying the damage to determine what caused the blast.


WKYT CBS News August 1, 2019 at 7:52 am

Deadly Kentucky gas pipeline explosion, fire felt “like an atomic bomb went off”

From an Article of CBS News, August 1, 2019

Junction City, Ky. — A regional gas pipeline ruptured early on August 1st in Lincoln County, Kentucky, causing a massive explosion that killed 1 person, hospitalized five others, destroyed railroad tracks and forced the evacuation of dozens of people from a nearby mobile home park, authorities said.

Several structures were on fire in the area of the Indian Camp Trailer Park, CBS Lexington affiliate WKYT-TV reported. Emergency managers said some people were unaccounted for.

The 30 inch wide pipeline moves natural gas under high pressure, so the rupture at about 1 a.m. caused a tremendous amount of damage in the immediate area, authorities said. Firefighters were still working to douse the flames hours later, with trucks repeatedly refilling their tanks and returning to the scene.

The explosion was so huge it showed up on radar, according to WKYT meteorologist Chris Bailey: County Emergency Management Director Don Gilliam said the flames reached about 300 feet in the air and could be seen throughout Lincoln County.

WKYT Viewers in several counties reported seeing the fire, including people in the Lexington metropolitan area.

One evacuee told WKYT, “It woke us up and it was just a big roar and fire going all the way up in the sky as far as you could see. Our windows were shaking really bad and you could see the ground just moving and tumbling and rolling. Then we got to feeling the heat from this fire, so we got in our vehicle to get away from it.”

Another told the station, “It was like an atomic bomb went off, basically.”

The blast also damaged railroad tracks, forcing 31 trains to back up overnight, authorities said. Gilliam urged people gathering for a multistate yard sale to stay away as tanker trucks work to put out fires.

Emergency managers said the rupture involved the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline, which is owned and operated by Enbridge. The pipeline stretches more than 9,000 miles, from the Mexican border in Texas to New York City.

A statement from the company based in Calgary, Canada, said “Enbridge is aware of and is responding to a rupture on the Texas Eastern system in Lincoln County.”


WLOS Durham, NC August 10, 2019 at 10:24 pm

Durham Fire Department: Explosion that killed 2 was accidentally caused

From WLOS Staff, DURHAM, N.C., August 10, 2019

The Durham Fire Department says it has investigated the explosion that killed two people, and concludes that it was accidentally caused when Optic Cable Technology LLC struck a gas line during an boring operation.

The City of Durham Fire Department released a report regarding the April 10 explosion in downtown Durham, and says it found that the explosion that also injured 25, was accidental.

“This report provides a wealth of information about how the explosion actually happened, including when the natural gas line was struck by Optic Cable Technology LLC, when the gas was first detected, and the actions of the firefighters prior to the explosion, including the evacuation of the involved buildings,” said Chief Robert Zoldos. “This report fulfills our responsibility to thoroughly investigate and document the origin, cause, and circumstances of the explosion, according to NFPA-921 standards, which outlines how investigations should be conducted.”

The report also concluded that the gas was ignited by an “undetermined source within 115 Duke Street leading to the explosion,” and that there is no “evidence of criminal intent by any company or individual to warrant criminal prosecution.”

The report follows a three-month investigation in which more than 25 people were interviewed, and numerous processes, 911 calls, and video tapes were examined and reviewed, the department says.

Key investigation findings revealed that the explosion occurred at 115 North Duke Street when “an explosive atmosphere was created when a gas service line was struck during a horizontal boring operation.”

“This breach allowed fugitive gas to flow until reaching an ignition source, at which time an explosion occurred resulting in severely damaged and destroyed buildings. As a result of the explosion, several persons, including firefighters, were injured and two fatalities occurred,” the city of Durham shared in an official fire department statement.


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