NTSB Finds Probable Cause of House Explosion

In a press release issued on February 27, 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that the probable cause of a fatal 2017 explosion in Millersville, Pennsylvania, was a faulty gas connection that allowed natural gas to leak into a single-family residence (Improperly Installed Natural Gas Connection Cause of 2017 House Explosion). The explosion destroyed the home and caused substantial damage to six nearby houses, killing one person and injuring three others.

The investigation found problems with the installation of the connection, known as a tapping tee, between the gas main and the individual gas line that connects to the residence. The NTSB determined that the tee assembly involved in the accident was improperly installed because a locking sleeve that served as an attachment between the tee and the gas main was not securely attached to the main.  

According to the NTSB, the failure to completely attach the locking sleeve created additional stress on four nylon bolts designed to hold the tee assembly in place, eventually resulting in fractures in the bolts. The nylon bolt fractures, combined with the improper tee installation, permitted gas to seep from the tee assembly.

As a result of its initial investigation into the cause of the Millersville explosion, in June 2018 the NTSB issued four safety recommendations to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Honeywell International, the manufacturer of the tee. The NTSB intended the recommendations to help avert future disasters from faulty tapping tee installations in natural gas distribution systems.

Federal law gives the NTSB the authority to establish the probable cause of a pipeline accident resulting in a fatality or substantial property damage, but their investigations are not conducted for the purpose of determining any party’s rights or liabilities. If you have been injured in a natural gas explosion, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney to protect your rights. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.

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