Columbus, Ohio — The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on Wednesday ordered Columbia Gas of Ohio to pay $250,000 for violations of natural gas pipeline safety regulations related to a November 2020 house fire in South Point, Ohio.
Wednesday’s order accepted a settlement agreement between PUCO staff and Columbia Gas of Ohio.
The agreement calls for Columbia to review its operations and procedures and examine how employees are trained and their qualifications are verified. Columbia must report its findings to the PUCO.
Columbia will also pay a $250,000 civil forfeiture to the state of Ohio.
A PUCO investigation alleged that Columbia personnel repairing a damaged pipeline ultimately led to a house fire in South Point, Ohio on Nov. 23, 2020.
The incident destroyed a house and three vehicles, causing over $800,000 in property damage, and injured a utility employee. The investigation stated that Columbia failed to follow its own operating procedures when repairing a natural gas pipeline that had been struck by an excavator, including assigning unqualified workers to perform the repairs.
The investigation report also noted a similar pattern of repeated safety violations.
A copy of today’s order, PUCO investigation, incident pictures, and settlement agreement is available on the PUCO website by clicking the link to “Docketing Information System” and searching for case 21-322-GA-GPS.