The state of Pennsylvania and the corporate owner of a Hickory Hills, Penn., mobile home park have reached a tentative $1 million settlement over a series of safety and code violations that led to a deadly propane explosion.
The agreement comes before a scheduled hearing in August to determine whether Indiana-based Continental Communities, which owns the Hickory Hills mobile home park where the 2014 blast occurred, would have to pay a $2 million fine proposed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).
Hickory Hills resident William Neith, 65, was killed on Feb. 14, 2014, when a faulty pipeline leading to the mobile home that he shared with his girlfriend exploded. Mr. Parsons and several other residents of the mobile home community had repeatedly complained of strong gas odors for years, up until the month the explosion occurred.
A Pennsylvania state police fire marshal investigating the blast determined it was caused by a deteriorated supply line that had cracked when repairs were being made to the mobile home’s heater. The investigation also uncovered several other severely corroded sections of a two-mile long underground pipeline that fed propane from a 30,000-gallon tank to homes in the park.
The PUC found a multitude of violations concerning the mobile home’s underground gas distribution system, including Continental Communities’ failure to register the pipeline system as required by state law.
The home’s faulty, corroded pipeline system allowed gas fumes to build up in the community. Investigators believe the blast may have been triggered by candles or an appliance’s pilot light in an area in or near Mr. Neith’s home where the gas had concentrated.
Mr. Neith’s family sued Continental Communities after the blast and settled with the company last year for an undisclosed amount.
In announcing the $1-million settlement, which will have to be approved by an administrative law judge before it’s finalized, the PUC said the amount addresses the violations and will help encourage other companies to comply with safety laws.
“The civil penalty imposed in this case will undoubtedly encourage registration and compliance by potentially affected operators, to the benefit of the public interest,” a PUC bureau of Investigation and Enforcement court filing says.
Source: The Morning Call