January 8, 2011 in Idaho

Accord reached in Odessa explosion

Avista would pay $200,000
By The Spokesman-Review

Avista Corp. filed a settlement agreement Friday with Washington state regulators that would, if approved, resolve all issues stemming from a December 2008 natural gas explosion and fire that injured two people and damaged a garage in Odessa, Wash.

As part of the agreement, Avista would pay a $200,000 fine. The utility has reached separate settlements with the two people injured by the explosion in the small farming community about 75 miles southwest of Spokane.

Avista officials negotiated the agreement with staff at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. The agreement will be reviewed by the three-member commission, which can accept or reject it.

State regulators initially recommended fines in excess of $1 million.

The explosion was caused by a leak in a section of 2-inch gas distribution pipe. Investigators determined that the plastic pipe was improperly embedded in a rock material, causing the line to crack.

A lit cigarette held by Roger Reyes inside the garage of his parents’ home ignited the gas. He was taken to the burn center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Cassandra McClure also was injured by the explosion.

The proposed settlement calls for additional education for city, county and state employees and third-party contractors responsible for excavations near similar pipe to reduce the risk of future explosions. Avista would also perform annual leak surveys on the plastic pipe that was installed in utility’s distribution system before 1987. The plastic pipe that cracked in Odessa was installed in 1981. 

Get stories like this in a free daily email

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus