Jan. 7, 2010, 3:05 p.m. PST: Avista filed a settlement agreement today with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) that would, if approved, resolve all issues stemming from a December 2008 natural gas explosion and fire that damaged a garage and injured two people in Odessa, Wash. As part of the settlement agreement, Avista will pay a $200,000 fine. Previously, Avista reached separate legal settlements with the injured individuals.
The results of independent investigations by UTC staff and Avista determined that a leak in a section of 2-inch gas distribution pipe was the source of the incident, with the leak being caused by a rock impingement on the pipe. The affected 2-inch pipe is a low-pressure distribution line that is significantly smaller than a high-pressure transmission pipeline.
Provisions of the settlement will provide for enhanced education for city, county and state personnel and third-party contractors responsible for excavations near similar pipe to reduce the risk of damage and will perform soil composition inspections to assess proper support of the pipe. The recommendation of commission staff and Avista to approve the agreement is not binding on the commission itself.
“Avista is responsible for the construction and maintenance of an extensive natural gas distribution system. The most important concern for us is the safety of the public and our employees and the integrity of our system,” said Don Kopczynski, Avista vice president of transmission and distribution operations. “Avista has numerous programs and procedures in place to help maintain a system that is safe and reliable. Also, we are continuing to perform routine leak surveys as part of our regular pipeline safety program, in accordance with federal pipeline codes.”
Natural gas is an odorless and colorless gas. However, an odorant, smelling of rotten eggs, is added for safety purposes. If you smell natural gas take these precautions:
- Don’t smoke, light matches, turn your electrical switches on or off, use the telephone or do anything else that might create a spark.
- Open your windows and outside doors, if possible.
- Evacuate everyone in your home or building, and stay out until someone from Avista Utilities tells you it is safe to return.
- Keep others away from the area.
- Call 911, and then Avista Utilities at (800) 227-9187, from a neighbor’s phone.
Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is our operating division that provides electric service to 357,000 customers and natural gas to 316,000 customers. Our service territory covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.5 million. Avista's primary, non-regulated subsidiary is Advantage IQ. Our stock is traded under the ticker symbol "AVA." For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistacorp.com.
Avista Corp. and the Avista Corp. logo are trademarks of Avista Corporation.
This news release contains forward-looking statements regarding the company’s current expectations. Forward-looking statements are all statements other than historical facts. Such statements speak only as of the date of the news release and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the company’s control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed herein, all of the factors discussed in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2009, and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2010.
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