PSC: National Grid Responsible for Water Mill Blaze

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National Grid failed to follow regulations regarding the discontinuance of gas service to a Water Mill property where a gas related explosion occurred in February of 2015, according to the New York State Public Service Commission.

The fire seriously injured two people, and National Grid now faces a civil court action and penalties following the PSC’s investigation.

“The Commission has zero tolerance for violations of its gas safety standards,” said Commission Chair John B. Rhodes. “Under tougher penalties for violations implemented by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, if National Grid is found to have violated our regulations, it could face a penalty to be paid by shareholders.”

According to the commission’s report, the investigation determined the cause of the explosion was the existence of gas service at the premises, which should have been locked two months prior to the incident. The report states that National Grid removed a customer’s name from the account when they called to discontinue service, despite being told that the new property owner would not need gas service for the foreseeable future. Regulations demand gas services be locked by the utility when a call is made to discontinue service.

Two men were renovating the Old County Road property on February 11, 2015 when they struck the natural gas facilities in the basement, causing gas to be leaked and resulting in the explosion.

The workers were airlifted to the hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries.

According to the commission, a similar incident occurred in August 10, 2014 in Schenectady.

National Grid has been directed to show cause, and could face a civil court action by the commission or penalties. National Grid may be liable for at least $100,000 per day for a continuing violation from the date the customer informed the company no new customer would be taking gas service until the date of the

incident. In the Schenectady incident, in which there were no injuries, National Grid agreed to pay $500,000 to ratepayers to settle the matter.

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