Companies Agree to Payments, Procedures Over New Jersey Blast

March 20, 2015

Two companies have agreed to pay New Jersey a total of $1.6 million and implement safety procedures for problems found in an investigation of an explosion that leveled a neighborhood, killing one person and injuring seven.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities announced the settlement Wednesday, calling it the largest penalty of its kind in the board’s history.

Pipeline company Henkels & McCoy, based in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, will pay $600,000.

Utility company PSE&G, a subsidiary of Newark-based PSEG, will pay $725,000 for issues related to the explosion. PSE&G also will pay another $275,000 for alleged violations of the Underground Facilities Protection Act that were not linked to the March 2014 explosion in Ewing Township.

Both companies also agreed to new safety measures including increasing training and simulations of pipeline issues and improving call center and dispatch operations.

After the explosion, West Trenton Chief Ralph Brandmaier told The Times of Trenton that utility workers did not tell emergency officials natural gas was leaking during the hour from the time the leak began until the explosion, which damaged 55 townhomes and leveled 10 of them.

The state settlement doesn’t prevent private parties, such as homeowners, from suing the companies.

The family of Linda Cerritelli, the 62-year-old woman who died in the blast northeast of Trenton, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both companies.

Seven utility workers who were in the area were also injured.

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