Statement of John Walsh – Chief Executive Officer, UGI Utilities
11 Feb 2011
On the night of February 9, a tragic explosion occurred at 542 and 544 North 13th Street in Allentown. Two homes were completely destroyed in a blast and numerous others damaged by the explosion, the resulting fire or water. Most devastating was the loss of life. On behalf of all of us at UGI, we offer our sincere condolences to those who lost loved ones, friends and neighbors.
Unfortunately, nothing any of us can do will bring those five good people back to their families and friends. What we can do is provide support to the victims’ families, and do our best to make things right for those whose homes and businesses have been damaged or disrupted. This has been our immediate focus at UGI and it will continue to be a priority in the coming days and weeks. As part of that effort, we are working closely with community service organizations, and this weekend UGI employees will go door to door in the neighborhood to listen to concerns and share our latest information.
Importantly, residents and businesses who have returned to the neighborhood can be confident the area is safe. Since the incident, we have thoroughly surveyed every foot of pipeline in the area, and we will be testing the soil around the pipeline for additional clues to the cause of the accident. We continue to work closely with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to investigate and determine exactly what happened and why.
The investigation is ongoing, but here are the basic facts as we know them today:
• The natural gas main in the affected area is classified as a low pressure main.
• On Feb. 9, UGI received a call from 911 at approximately 11 p.m. about the explosion. UGI was not conducting any maintenance or repair of its facilities or pipelines in this area and had not received any reports of a natural gas odor prior to the explosion.
• UGI’s emergency crews were on the scene in less than 20 minutes and began the process to safely shut off gas flow in the main.
• The process used to shut off the main included spraying foam directly into the gas main to stop the flow of gas.
• Routine gas leak surveys had been completed one day prior to the incident in this area and had revealed no leaks.
We are extremely grateful to the dedicated men and women serving with the police, fire and other emergency management services, community service agencies such as the
Red Cross, and UGI’s field crews, who responded to the incident. UGI customers can be assured that we will take any and every step necessary to keep our customers safe and secure.