HARRISBURG – Personnel from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC’s) Pipeline Safety and Electric Safety Divisions are currently working to investigate and address issues related to an incident today involving a natural gas gathering line located in Center Township, Beaver County.
PUC Pipeline Safety engineers are coordinating with local emergency responders to gain access to the scene, so they can begin efforts to identify the nature and cause of the incident involving a pipeline operated by Energy Transfer Partners – which resulted in a fire and the evacuation of nearby residents.
“Safety is a priority for the Commission, and our engineers – who were on-site soon after the incident was reported – are focused on determining exactly what happened and why it occurred,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “We appreciate the hard work of emergency crews from throughout the region who responded this morning without hesitation, and the residents and businesses impacted by this incident are very much on our minds.”
The Commission is also working with utilities in the region to determine the potential impact on any other systems or facilities. There has been some confirmed damage to high voltage electric transmission and distribution lines and towers located near the incident site.
The PUC’s Electric Safety Division and Bureau of Technical Utility Services are in communication with FirstEnergy/West Penn Power and Duquesne Light regarding the repairs of those facilities and restoration to impacted customers. The electric utilities reported limited, localized customer interruptions as the utilities were able to re-route power around the damaged area.
The Pipeline Safety and Electric Safety Divisions are part of the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement (I&E). Safety engineers are in the field daily, conducting inspections of utility construction, operations and integrity management activities. They also investigate issues discovered during their inspections, along with incidents reported by utility operators, emergency response agencies and other concerned third parties.
As a policy, I&E does not comment on details of investigations until they result in enforcement action or a formal petition or complaint filed before the Commission.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
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