Puget Sound Energy failed to properly disconnect and seal the gas pipeline that caused the natural-gas explosion that rocked Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood in March, according to a state Utilities and Transportation Commission investigation.
A pipeline between two buildings, which housed Mr. Gyros restaurant and cafe Neptune, was left active despite being abandoned in 2004, according to the investigation report.
Investigators found that people using the narrow space between the buildings to store personal belongings broke the pipe at a threaded connection. Gas escaped and accumulated inside or under the Mr. Gyro’s building before it ignited, the report said.
Nine firefighters were injured in the explosion. Two buildings and three businesses were destroyed.
As a result of the investigation, the department has filed a complaint against the utility alleging 17 violations of pipeline-safety regulations.
If affirmed by the commission, the utility could face up to $3.2 million in penalties.
A statement released by PSE called the fines “disappointing and excessive.”
According to investigators, “unauthorized individuals” at least in part caused the leak, but it was not determined that anyone intentionally damaged the pipe.
Interviewees told investigators they sometimes tripped on or bumped into the steel service line.
A firefighter told investigators that when he responded to the scene of the leak he saw gas “jetting” downward from the pipe’s threading.