Tag Archives: Washington Gas

Washington Gas ordered to pay six-figure penalty in home explosion case

Washington Gas has agreed to replace copper lines throughout a Chantilly neighborhood and pay Virginia a six-figure penalty stemming from a explosion in 2010, but the settlement will not compensate the homeowner’s whose loss launched the investigation.

In the agreement between the company and the State Corporation Commission, Washington Gas neither admits or denies violating safety standards. The company has been directed to undertake several safety improvements, including the replacement of all copper service lines in the Brookfield Community where the explosion occurred.

As of Dec. 20, 2010, charred debris was all that remained of Thuan Nguyen’s two-story home in the 4300 block of Lees Corner Road. No one was hurt in the explosion as the Nguyen family was out at the time.

A subsequent investigation and report of the accident by the SCC’s Division of Utility & Railroad Safety cited nine alleged violations of the commission’s gas pipeline safety standards against Washington Gas.

The report states the gas service line under Lees Corner Road leading to Nguyen’s home experienced severe corrosion that resulted in a major gas leak.

However, the report also states that alone is not enough to prove culpability for the explosion on the part of Washington Gas because it cannot be proved that a 1-inch diameter gas fuel line that “terminated on the second floor of the [Nguyen] residence” had been properly capped.

According to the report, the end threads of that fuel line were tested after the explosion for the presence of pipe thread sealant; none was found.

Representatives of the SCC and Washington Gas announced the settlement May 24 during a public forum in the neighborhood.

“We turned over every stone we could,” said Massoud Tahamtani, director of SCC’s Division of Utility & Railroad Safety. “What we found is that there were two sources of the potential leak; one under Washington Gas’s control and one under the homeowner’s control.”

According to SCC safety manager Shane Ayers, Washington Gas will be pay a penalty of $154,800 to the state, with an additional $219,700 due if the remedial actions set forth in the order are not met.

“We’ve got over 200 lines to replace in this neighborhood,” said Steve Price, Washington Gas spokesman.

“So if you don’t think the explosion was caused by faulty copper lines, why all this work?” Nguyen asked during the public forum.

“The corrosion rate for copper pipes is greater than other materials like steel,” Stabler replied. “It is rare to see corrosion and we only see two corrosions per year on average. We will take this opportunity to replace older copper lines in this neighborhood. ”

SOURCE: http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120601/NEWS/706019697/1117/washington-gas-ordered-to-pay-six-figure-penalty-in-home-explosion&template=fairfaxTimes


Gas explosion investigation renders few answers, but corroded pipeline became evident

On Dec. 19, 2010, the home that Thuan Nguyen shared with his family in Chantilly, VA exploded. More than a year later, regulators still have not been able to pinpoint an exact cause for the disaster.

In a November 2011 report, the Virginia State Corporation Commission released disturbing new details about the gas explosion, citing Washington Gas for 11 probable violations. However, they also say they’re unable to determine the exact cause of the decision because the utility did not take required measurements.

In the report, the SCC says that “the gas service line to the home experienced severe corrosion.” The line, installed in 1966, had never been upgraded, and photos in the report show holes and severe corrosion in the lines.

The report also says that the corrosion resulted in a major leak across the street from the home on Lees Corner Drive, but they only concluded that the leak might have caused the explosion. Since Washington Gas didn’t record required leak detection measurements, though, the commission can’t be sure.

The SCC report also says that a customer-owned fuel line that may not have been capped properly could have also caused the explosion. The line in question once led to a gas stove on the second story of the house, but previous owners had put it behind a wall during renovations.

Washington Gas declined to comment because the utility is being sued by the Nguyen’s insurance company. Nguyen, in the meantime, has not been contacted by the company.

“I hear no word from Washington Gas,” he said.

Regardless of cause or blame, residents of the Chantilly neighborhood say they live in fear and believe it could happen again, while all the while, Washington Gas tells them that its investigation into the explosion continues 14 months later.

“Three-quarters of this development is all gas,” Leeds says. “It doesn’t take that long to investigate anything.”

SOURCE: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/02/chantilly-house-gas-explosion-investigation-renders-few-answers-72157.html