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NTSB links incorrectly installed part to deadly 2017 Manor Township house explosion

MANOR TOWNSHIP, Lancaster County -- A mechanical part that was incorrectly installed 20 years ago was leaking gas prior to a deadly house explosion in Manor Township last July, according to a report issued by the National Transportation and Safety Board.

While the cause of the explosion that killed a UGI worker and injured three others has not been determined, the NTSB is urging Honeywell, the company that manufactured the part, to make safety recommendations for correct installation in its report, the first since it launched an investigation following the incident last July.

The part, a Permalock mechanical tapping tee, was not installed correctly in 1998, the NTSB report concluded. The federal agency's report also urges the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to provide recommendations for the part's correct installation as well.

Richard Bouder, 54, a UGI Utilities worker, was killed by flying debris in the July 2 blast, which destroyed a single family home on the 200 block of Springdale Lane. Two other UGI employees and a worker for the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority were also injured in the blast.

The NTSB said in its report that UGI workers relied solely on written instructions when the part was installed in 1998. There were no federal qualification training standards, and UGI had no training program for installing the part, the NTSB's report concludes.

UGI stopped using the Permalock tee about 10 years ago, according to the NTSB report.

In 2002, new federal regulations required training for workers installing mechanical tee tapping assemblies, and UGI began a certification program for the employees those regulations affected.

UGI has corrected the installation or replaced about 4,000 Permalock tee assemblies since 2007, including about 1,000 since the Manor Township explosion, according to the NTSB.

The NTSB report concludes that more detailed installation instructions from Honeywell for PermaLock mechanical tee assemblies should specify exact tools "to ensure correct installation and prevent gas leaks."

NTSB FATAL MANOR TWP HOUSE EXPLOSION REPORT

UGI Utilities released a statement in response to the report Monday afternoon. It reads:

UGI Utilities, Inc. is aware of the recommendations, published today on the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board website, regarding plastic mechanical tapping devices. The recommendations published by the NTSB were issued to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and a manufacturer of plastic mechanical tapping devices.
Plastic mechanical taps are a type of device used to connect Polyethylene natural gas service lines to a Polyethylene natural gas distribution main. The plastic mechanical tapping devices referenced by the NTSB in their recommendations were procured by the UGI Utilities Inc. Gas Division and UGI Penn Natural Gas Inc. systems between 1997 and 2006. Fewer than 19,000 of the NTSB referenced  devices were installed on the UGI systems. Approximately 5,000 of the NTSB referenced devices have been replaced or remediated.
The NTSB recommendations arise from information learned during the investigation of an incident that occurred in Millersville, PA on July 2, 2017, involving UGI facilities. UGI has cooperated fully with the NTSB in its investigation of this incident and will continue to do so until it is completed.
As part of its ongoing system inspection and maintenance program, UGI inspects and remediates plastic mechanical tapping devices on its system. UGI Utilities remains fully committed to the safe operation of its system, and to the safe and reliable delivery of energy to our customers and to the many communities we serve.