Oklahoma Utility: Poor Workmanship on Gas Pipeline Caused House Explosion

February 5, 2016

A gas utility has said bad workmanship was the cause of a Jan. 2 pipeline explosion that obliterated a northwest Oklahoma City home, damaged dozens of others and severely injured a man.

Oklahoma Natural Gas cited a 3.5 inch crack in a polyethylene pipe and a lack of fusion in a weld seam as the cause of the blast in an incident report filed with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

The utility company determined that neither weather nor environmental factors contributed to the leak and explosion. The report found that pressure in the pipe was also within normal operating parameters at the time.

Corporation commission spokesman Matt Skinner says the agency will thoroughly review the report.

An Oklahoma Natural Gas spokeswoman told The Oklahoman that the utility didn’t have any additional comment.

The privately owned utility has denied the newspaper’s request for leak survey reports conducted in the area, citing “confidentiality protections.”

Leak surveys help gas companies determine whether or not leaks are present in the pipelines and mains. Under federal law, such surveys are required to be conducted in residential subdivisions every three years. It’s unclear when the last leak survey report was conducted in the neighborhood of the explosion.

The utility also declined to identify the type of pipe involved in the explosion, the age of the pipe or any information about the utility’s long-term plan for replacing aged pipe.

The report filed on Feb. 1 indicated the pipe was installed in 1983 and was manufactured in the same year by Drisco.

The explosion caused more than $509,000 in property damage, including about $5,000 to the utility’s infrastructure. The utility serves about 850,000 customers through 23,200 miles of pipeline.

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