News Briefs: Did Aging Pipeline Cause Deadly Explosion?

In this week’s news, old pipelines are suspect in a deadly natural gas explosion. Also, a $3.4 billion project will increase San Antonio’s water supply.
News Briefs: Did Aging Pipeline Cause Deadly Explosion?

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Madlyn Mecca, 86, died last week in a natural gas explosion that leveled her house in Dunmore, Pa., and caused significant damage to other homes in the neighborhood.

Since water and gas lines in the area were installed before industry-wide standards were put into place, some suspect the proximity of those lines – coupled with the fact they were backfilled with soil instead of loose fill – might be to blame.

“In the Pennsylvania gas and water region, the gas and water lines are very close in many places and this has been a problem for some time,” Bill Kiger told The Citizens’ Voice. Kiger is president and executive director of Pennsylvania One Call System, a nonprofit corporation that helps protect the state’s underground utilities.

UGI Utilities and Pennsylvania American Water Co. are working with the state’s Public Utility Commission to determine the cause of the explosion.

A water main break, accompanied by the heavy odor of natural gas, was reported by the Dunmore Police Department at 2:20 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4, according to The Republican-Herald. UGI responded quickly to shut off the gas in a two-block area and Pennsylvania American Water crews worked to assess the water main break as residents nearby were evacuated.

Mecca was waiting on her porch for a ride to the Dunmore Community Center where the American Red Cross had opened a warming center for displaced residents when the blast occurred.

Pennsylvania American Water issued a statement on its Facebook page regarding the tragedy: 




San Antonio Taps Abengoa For $3.4 Billion Water Pipeline Project

Abengoa will soon begin work on a $3.4 billion project that will deliver up to 16.3 billion gallons of water annually to the city of San Antonio.

The city council recently approved a contract between the San Antonio Water System and Vista Ridge Consortium for Abengoa to construct a 142-mile pipeline that will deliver water from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer.

“We are all aware that water is life,” says Carlos Cosin, Abengoa’s president and CEO. “It means security. It means growth.”

According to the San Antonio Express-News, SAWS is currently searching for a project manager and planning to sell some of its water to smaller utilities in the short term.

The project will expand the local water supply by up to 20 percent starting in 2019. SAWS will take over ownership of the pipeline after the 30-year contract expires, with right of first refusal to acquire water leases through 2080.


Settlement Reached In Valley Forge National Park Sewer Line Leak

Tredyffrin Township, Pa., will replace a deteriorating 36-year-old sewer pipeline that, on three occasions since 2012, has spewed untreated sewage into a tributary that flows into Valley Forge National Historical Park. Experts estimate that in 2014, 21 million gallons were discharged into Valley Creek, a Class A trout stream and tributary of the Schuylkill River.

The settlement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which also includes a $110,500 penalty against the township, comes after the threat of a Clean Water Act lawsuit from two environmental groups, PennEnvironment and the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.

A consent decree issued by a Chester County judge declared that Tredyffrin Township and the Tredyffrin Township Municipal Authority had violated the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law on each of the three incidents.

The settlement with the state DEP also requires Treddyffrin Township to develop an emergency response plan in the event of another rupture.



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