Public Service Commission wants gas pipe testedState Public Service Commission officials plan to hire an independent lab to test a section of natural gas pipe linked to a Sept. 2 house explosion in Fargo.
FARGO (AP) — State Public Service Commission officials plan to hire an independent lab to test a section of natural gas pipe linked to a Sept. 2 house explosion in Fargo.
The twin home explosion injured five people and leveled the unit. The most badly burned victim, Luul Omar, was transferred Tuesday from a Minneapolis hospital to a Fargo rehab unit, said her half brother, Abdul Mohamed.
Xcel Energy reported that a pinhole-sized leak in a section of the underground pipe allowed gas to get into the house, but its report said more tests would be needed to find the cause of the leak.
Xcel has decided not to test the piping, said Alan Moch, director of the PSC’s testing and safety division. The company said the pipe is available to regulators if they want more tests.
“I can understand why it’s either got to be independent or everybody together, because any test done by Xcel — this is just my speculation — would seem to me to be questioned,” Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said Wednesday.
Moch said the PSC wants to test the pipe to determine if the hole was the result of brittle pipe, stress caused by improper installation or an improperly installed fusion.
“If the lab says they didn’t follow those fusion requirements and that somehow contributed to the incident, then there could be a possible violation,” Moch said.
The pipe was manufactured by the now-defunct Century Utility Products in 1972. The federal government warned in a 1999 bulletin that Century pipe installed from 1970 to 1973 “may fail in service due to its poor resistance to brittle-like cracking.”
Moch said that before the PSC wants scientific proof before it commits to Xcel’s position that brittle pipe was to blame.
The PSC’s attorney, Illona Jeffcoat-Sacco, said that if a violation is found, the costs of the investigation could be assessed against the violator.
Xcel announced plans last month to replace all Century pipe in North Dakota by 2010 at an estimated cost of $3.6 million. The project affects Fargo, West Fargo, Mapleton and Grand Forks.
Xcel has identified 13.5 miles of Century main in the state, and further work is needed to positively identify other plastic piping installed during the 1970s, Lund said.