The (Allentown) Morning Call says the settlement proposal filed Wednesday would require UGI Utilities to replace lines such as the one implicated in the February 2011 blast within 14 years, rather than the 20-year timeline to which the company agreed in May. UGI has also agreed to improve the process it uses to infuse gas with an odor that helps customers detect leaks.
The proposal now goes to an administrative law judge who will accept comment, and then to the state Public Utility Commission for a final decision.
The commission blamed a crack in a cast-iron distribution line, cited multiple safety violations and recommended the fine and corrective action for the explosion that set fire to a block of row homes, killing Beatrice Hall, 74, and her 79-year-old husband, William, as well as 16-year-old Katherine Cruz, 4-month-old Matthew Vega and 69-year-old Ofelia Ben.
The Reading-based company said in legal papers Friday that its program for sampling gas odors complied with regulations and levels in the pipe were adequate, and also said the pipeline that burst wasn't "a candidate for immediate replacement."
Last year, the commission adopted new gas leak detection guidelines calling for increased monitoring during the winter months, saying they were aimed at improving pipeline safety and preventing explosions like the Allentown blast.