LG&E issued record fine in connection with home explosion


by Adam Walser


Posted on February 5, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 5 at 7:24 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Kentucky Public Service Commission announced Tuesday that it has fined Louisville Gas and Electric $125,000. It has also suspended $125,000 in additional penalties in connection with an explosion in an Okolona neighborhood that occurred in December of 2011.

"I heard a boom and I ran downstairs and my brother was calling the police to tell them that the house exploded," 11-year-old Samantha Colvin, recalled that morning.

A gas leak caused a house to explode in her neighborhood.

"The guy who lived there he was screaming and tying to go inside the house to get his dog," she said.

Fortunately, the dog was the only casualty that day, aside from damage to at least four homes.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission announced that LG&E will face the $125,000 fine in connection with that incident.

"It's the biggest fine that's ever been paid to the PSC in connection with a safety violation," Kentucky Public Service Commission Spokesman Andrew Melykovych said.

The report says the gas leak was caused by a ruptured water line, but the investigation uncovered several major safety violation.

The PSC alleges LG&E violated several standard safety procedures when responding to the gas leak, failed to evacuate nearby homes and operated a system with too much pressure in the lines.

Neighbor John Bates says the fine is not a big enough penalty for the danger the incident caused and the stress neighbors have endured.

"The report basically says they're at fault, but it says 'you did something wrong, but you're ok. Here's a slap on the wrist and go on and do what you do.' But that doesn't help us any," Bates said.

Meanwhile Samantha Colvin says she continues to be afraid in her own neighborhood.

"I'm kind of afraid that my house might blow up or catch fire and I don't want that to happen," Colvin said.

LG&E released a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, in part,"This was an unfortunate accident and we're grateful no one was hurt. We are working with the KPSC to provide them with additional information that allows them to better understand our system and operating practices. The company says it believes technicians responded to the scene in a timely fashion with the safety of everyone being a top priority."