In what the regulators consider a prudent way of eliminating long, costly litigation, Las Vegas, NV-based Southwest Gas Corp. Friday reached agreement with the Arizona Corporation Commission’s (ACC’s) pipeline safety division in the aftermath of Feb. 2 residential natural gas explosion that damaged part of a home, but spared the residents. An ACC spokesperson announced the agreement.

The incident occurred in one of the homes in a residential development in which in mid-January the utility responded to complaints about gas odors in the Queen Creek community. Southwest Gas identified the source of a leak in its distribution system and repaired it, but natural gas accumulations had permeated the area and the utility ordered the evacuation of nearby homes.

Despite the fact that Southwest continued standard mechanical aeration operations and leak surveys in the area, an explosion occurred in a kitchen of one of the homes more than two weeks later.

Under a consent agreement by Southwest Gas, it will pay a civil penalty of $100,000 to the state’s general fund and will make changes to its notification and training for handling of similar incidents in the future. The ACC regulators said following a meeting in which they approved the consent agreement that the utility is now “compelled to do a much better job of communicating” with the regulatory panel’s pipeline safety unit.

©Copyright 2004 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.