Ice Buildup Caused Ohio Gas Overpressure

A spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio told a local newspaper that ice in a sensor line caused high-pressure natural gas to reach hundreds of homes in the Village of Fairport Harbor on Monday, causing an explosion and fires.

Most residents of the Village of Fairport Harbor, Ohio, were back in their homes Wednesday, two days after high-pressure natural gas in the town’s lines caused an explosion, fires, and an evacuation. Dominion East Ohio’s customers in Fairport Harbor were affected.

Both a safety valve and a backup valve failed, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported, and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates gas companies in the state, is investigating. A PUCO spokesman told The Morning Journal, another newspaper, that ice in a sensor line prevented a pressure regulator from opening, which caused the problem.

A statement about safety from Anne E. Bomar, Dominion East's senior vice president and general manager, is posted on the company’s website. It discusses a $2.6 billion, bare-steel pipeline replacement program that began in 2008 and will replace 4,100 miles of pipeline. "Also, we meet annually with emergency responders, local public officials and excavators to educate them on pipeline safety and to communicate natural gas-safety messages throughout the year with the general public and our customers. We worked with Ohio Gas Association member companies to develop the Safegasohio education program. For information, visit www.safegasohio.org," it says.

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