The Allentown natural gas explosion that killed 5 people last year is back in the headlines this week after families of the deceased have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the utilities provider UGI.
The deadly explosion and subsequent fire last February devastated a block of homes near the corner of 13th and W. Allen in Allentown, Pennsylvania. 8 homes were destroyed and 47 others were damaged.
The suit filed against UGI Tuesday on behalf of the bereaved families alleges that in 1992 The National Transportation Safety Board warned UGI in a letter that it was necessary to replace miles of corroding gas pipelines in Allentown. This letter was sent following a previous blast in 1990 that resulted in one death, this previous explosion was less than one mile from the sight of last year’s explosion.
The suit filed by Bethlehem lawyer Christian Perrucci on behalf of the affected families does not name the amount sought, though it is clear that is a greater amount than can be sought in arbitration.
One family was not represented in this lawsuit. The family of William and Beatrice Hall reached a settlement with UGI in June , the amount of that settlement has not been disclosed.
Proper monitoring of outdated infrastructure, such as these corroding pipelines could have given UGI a greater warning that these repairs were in fact necessary, potentially saving lives millions of dollars in damaged property, and the reputation of their company. With all of the available corrosion protection and monitoring systems now available, tragedies such as this one in Allentown should become a thing of the past.