National Grid worker's errors led to costly explosions, report says

An explosion destroyed a Brentwood home on April An explosion destroyed a Brentwood home on April 24, 2011. Photo Credit: James Carbone and Ed Betz

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A state regulatory agency has determined a National Grid employee did not follow safety regulations before two separate natural-gas explosions in Suffolk County that sent two dozen people to hospitals and caused millions of dollars in damage.

In its investigation into the gas explosions -- one at a vacant Brentwood home in 2011, the other at a Central Islip condominium in 2012 -- the New York State Public Service Commission found that an unnamed National Grid employee failed to follow safety guidelines while working at both sites.

The findings were first reported Sunday in the New York Post.

The Brentwood explosion on April 24, 2011, leveled the home and damaged two adjacent houses. Twenty-one people were taken to hospitals for treatment or observation. The agency found that a required locking device was not placed on a gas valve leading into the home, and the employee did not inspect or test a service regulator that had been installed about two weeks earlier.

On July 10, 2012, the same National Grid employee serviced a water heater in a condo in Central Islip and left the scene 14 minutes before the explosion, according to the findings.

The agency said the employee did not follow company procedures for four required tasks, nor did National Grid test the employee for drugs or alcohol after the explosion, as required by state regulations.

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That explosion caused more than $3 million in property damage, the state found.

"By failing to comply with these regulatory requirements in both the Brentwood and Central Islip incidents, National Grid has failed to furnish and provide safe service," according to the agency's report issued last month.

National Grid may face penalties of as much as $100,000 to $250,000 per violation.

National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said in an email that the utility "will take the order very seriously, and will respond to the Commission within the timeframe required by the order."

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