BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Gas & Electric has completed the inspection of its gas and electric equipment serving the 4200 block of Labyrinth Road in Northwest Baltimore, where the deadly explosion happened Monday.
“We have completed the inspection of BGE gas and electric equipment serving the 4200 block of Labyrinth Road in northwest Baltimore, ” BGE said in a statement. “BGE has found that all of its equipment—gas mains, gas service pipes and gas meters, as well as electric equipment—has been operating safely and was not the cause of the natural gas explosion that occurred Aug. 10.”
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Investigators are also examining customer-owned gas piping and appliances at the scene.
The investigation into what caused the explosion is being led by the Baltimore City Fire Department and other local, state, and federal agencies.
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Here’s there other findings, according to the statement:
- The Labyrinth Road BGE gas main and gas service pipes were surveyed for leaks on Monday, Aug. 10, with none identified.
- Our crews canvassed all surrounding buildings on Aug 10-11. No gas readings were found in any of the buildings.
- A portion of the gas main in the vicinity of the explosion and 38 gas service pipes for properties along this portion of the main were isolated from the area gas system and taken out of service on Aug. 10 as a safety precaution while emergency rescue operations were underway. On Tuesday afternoon, the gas main and services successfully passed a re-pressurization test required to be placed back in service. This portion of the gas main and services were again surveyed with leak detection equipment and no leaks were found, confirming the previous day’s results.
- On Wednesday (Aug. 12) afternoon, gas service pipes serving properties involved in the explosion were pressure tested with PSC oversight and were found to successfully hold pressure with no leaks.
- In cooperation with federal, state, and city investigators, BGE analyzed the data from the gas and electric smart meters serving the properties involved in the explosion and has provided that data to the Baltimore City Fire Department and other investigators. This information is being reviewed by the investigators and can be helpful to investigators on analyzing the flows of gas and electricity on customer-owned equipment.
- The data from one gas meter was found to be indicative of some type of issue beyond the BGE meter on customer-owned gas equipment and is currently being analyzed by investigators.
- BGE performed a thorough analysis of the past routine leak survey inspections for the area. The Labyrinth Road gas main and service pipes are on a 3-year inspection cycle and were surveyed in June and July of 2019. No leaks were found.
- BGE reviewed the history of any leaks reported by customers. No leaks were reported by customers at the properties involved in the explosion for the last five years.
- No gas odors were reported to BGE from the Labyrinth Road area on the day of the explosion.
- The 1960s installation age and protected steel materials of the medium-pressure gas mains and service pipes serving the neighborhood where Labyrinth Road is located are very safe and highly reliable with low leak rates. While BGE is undertaking a gas system modernization effort to replace aging, outmoded equipment throughout central Maryland, it is focused primarily on removal of low-pressure cast iron, unprotected steel and copper piping that make up less than 20 percent of the gas system but account for 70 percent of the leaks. These materials are not used in the neighborhood where Labyrinth Road is located. Throughout central Maryland, since 2014, BGE has invested more than $560 million in its STRIDE accelerated gas system modernization program and replaced 260 miles of gas main and 64,000 gas service pipes and risers. We have increased the pace from a 100-year replacement timeline to removing all outmoded materials from the gas system within the next two decades.
- We thank our customers in this neighborhood and across central Maryland for their patience and understanding while we completed this important phase of the investigation. We are extremely appreciative of the partnership with the emergency responders and relief agencies and city, county, state, and federal officials who responded to this event.
- BGE is contributing $25,000 to relief organizations American Red Cross of Central Maryland, United Way of Central Maryland, and the Maryland Food Bank to support needs in the community surrounding the incident.
- All electric service temporarily interrupted during the incident has been restored to customers. Gas service is available for restoration for any on-site gas customers whose properties have passed structural and gas safety inspections performed by Baltimore City and BGE. Any gas customers who have temporarily relocated who still need service restored may contact BGE at 1-800-685-0123 at their convenience to schedule an inspection of the property and service restoration.
- All 3,200 BGE employees are keeping the families of the deceased and those injured in the explosion in our thoughts and prayers.
- As always, customers are reminded to contact BGE at 1-800-685-0123 from a safe location at any time, 365 days a year, if they smell gas or have any gas or electric safety concerns. BGE crews will respond promptly to make the situation safe.
- Customers should also ensure their gas appliances and piping are routinely inspected and properly maintained by licensed plumbers and appliance technicians. For more gas safety tips, please visit bge.com/gassafety.
City officials, meanwhile, are racing to get to residents to warn them of fraudulent insurance contractors who may knock on their doors.
“People are trying to sneak into the site and ask about making certain home improvements to people and making them sign contracts, and people just want to get their lives back to normal and that just adds another level of stress,” Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer said.
He added that unlicensed contractors are an issue following the blast.
The Maryland Insurance Administration was in the area on Thursday to help residents navigate filing a claim. A city official said the next phase of cleanup is set to start next week.