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Seattle Times: Puget Sound Energy to pay $1.5 million fine for Greenwood gas explosion

The Seattle Times reports that Puget Sound Energy has settled for a $1.5 million fine with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission after last year’s devastating Greenwood gas explosion. You can read the Times’ full story here.

The UTC’s department of Pipeline Safety released a report last September saying the explosion was caused by an improperly decommissioned gas line that had been damaged by transients who used a narrow space between Neptune Coffee and Mr. Gyros to store their belongings. The UTC originally proposed a fine of $3.2 million.

The explosion happened in the middle of the night, while firefighters were on scene investigating a report of a possible natural gas leak. Nine firefighters were injured, but none seriously. Three businesses were destroyed and 50 more damaged. Adjacent G&O Family Cyclery’s building was too damaged to reopen (they’ve since reopened a block away at 8558 Greenwood Ave. N.), as was Insurrection Apparel (which works with clients by appointment elsewhere) Better Hearing Center (which moved to Oaktree Village), and Kouzina Greek restaurant, which said in January that its Zoey Catering was closing because the building was too damaged and it couldn’t find a new location. The Angry Beaver across the street was heavily damaged and took months to reopen. Dozens of other businesses’ damage ranged from a single broken window to serious structural damage.

Business owners held a press conference in January taking PSE to task for fighting the UTC’s proposed fine and claimed the company was not doing enough to help affected business owners, many of whom were having trouble getting reimbursed by their insurance companies.

Puget Sound Energy is in the process of checking that every decommissioned gas line in the state has been properly capped.