UGI Penn Natural Gas Inc. has agreed to pay $1 million to settle with the Public Utility Commission after a whistle-blower revealed the utility did not adequately repair a high-pressure gas main.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports it would be the largest fine levied against a utility since the state legislature increased the maximum penalty from $500,000 to $2 million.
From the Inquirer:
According to the settlement, a utility employee alerted federal pipeline regulators in May 2012 that UGI Penn Natural Gas had failed to properly repair a 10-inch-diameter gas main in a busy commercial area in Wilkes-Barre that was leaking dangerously.
The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration notified the PUC’s investigators of the whistle-blower’s allegations that “the gas company may be trying to cover up” the leak under Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard.
The PUC’s enforcement unit found that the utility understated the severity of the leak and that initial repairs failed because they were inadequate to contain the pipeline’s high pressure. The utility had not reduced pressure on the main after the leak was discovered.