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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation P-96-015
Details
Synopsis: ABOUT 6:45 P,M. ON 6/9/94, A 2-INCH-DIAMETER STEEL GAS SERVICE LINE THAT HAD BEEN EXPOSED DURING EXCAVATION SEPARATED AT A COMPRESSION COUPLING ABOUT 5 FEET FROM THE NORTH WALL OF JOHN T. GROSS TOWERS, AN EIGHT-STORY RETIREMENT HOME OPERATED BY THE ALLENTOWN HOUSING AUTHORITY AT ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA. THE FAILED UGI UTILITIES, INC,. (UGI) SERVICE LINE RELEASED NATAURAL GAS AT 55 PSIG PRESSURE, & THE ESCAPING GAS FLOWED UNDERGROUND TO GROSS TOWERS. THE GAS PASSED THROUGH OPENINGS IN THE BUILDING FOUNDATION, ENTERED THE MECHANICAL ROOM THROUGH FLOOR VENTS, & MIGRATED TO OTHER BUILDING FLOORS.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE HUD: EVALUATE THE SAFETY BENEFITS OF REQUIRING THE INSTALLATION OF EXCESS FLOW VALVES IN GAS SERVICES TO EXISTING BUILDINGS &, WHERE FEASIBLE, REQUIRE THEIR INSTALLATION.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Pipeline
Location: Allentown, PA, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA94MP003
Accident Reports:
UGI Utilities, Inc., Natural Gas Distribution Pipeline Explosion and Fire
Report #: PAR-96-01
Accident Date: 6/9/1994
Issue Date: 3/6/1996
Date Closed: 9/12/2001
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Excess Flow Valves

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
Date: 9/12/2001
Response: The Safety Board is disappointed that HUD still does not agree with the recommendations, believing that requiring installation of EFVs and evaluating safety benefits of gas detectors are Department of Transportation (DOT) issues. The Board is also disappointed that HUD has reiterated its 1996 concerns with EFVs. In its July 15, 1996, response, HUD declined to implement the recommendations, stating that it was reluctant to establish new requirements and regulations requiring the installation of EFVs, which it considered to be within the purview of the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) of the DOT, which determined earlier that EFVs are not warranted based on its analysis of data provided to it by the industry. On 11/26/96, the Safety Board informed HUD that it did not find the RSPA assessment effective and that the assessment was not relevant to buildings where a single EFV would protect many dwelling units housing, collectively, up to hundreds of residents. However, HUD continues to state that it does not plan to take any action, the basis of this decision having been explained fully in its 1996 response. Accordingly, because HUD continues to disagrees with the recommendations and plans to take no action to implement them, Safety Recommendations P-96-14 through -16 are classified “Closed--Unacceptable Action.”

From: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
To: NTSB
Date: 7/19/2001
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 07/24/2001 3:38:11 PM MC# 2010596 In HUD's July 15, 1996, response to the initial NTSB's letter of March 6, 1996, HUD declined to implement the above safety recommendations. The Department was reluctant to establish new requirements and regulations requiring the installation of EFVs that the Department considers to be within the purview of the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) of the Department of Transportation, which determined earlier that EFVs are not warranted based on its analysis of data provided to it by the industry. In the NTSB's November 26, 1996, response to HUD, the Safety Board indicated that it did not find the RSPA assessment effective and that it was not relevant to buildings where a single EFV would protect many dwelling units housing collectively up to hundreds of residents. HUD considers RSPA the responsible agency and is resting its decision on RSPA's regulations. Therefore,the Department's first determination still stands. There were further recommendations made by NTSB in its November 1996 letter that encouraged HUD to at least develop technical and motivational information regarding the safety benefits of EFVs and how to negotiate with gas companies to install them. The Department believes that safety issues of EFVs rests with RSPA including educating the building owners, general public and gas suppliers. Staff investigated the issue of notifying or requiring owners of HUD associated housing to install gas sensors to warn of natural gas leaks including those arising from ruptures in the streets. The guiding code for residential structures would be the National Fire Code. Currently the National Fire Code does not include requirements for gas detectors for residential structures. Where local or State code require such detectors, the Department would expect program participants to follow these requirements in public and assisted housing. At this time we do not know of any such local code requirements. In the June 5, 2001, letter, NTSB informed HUD that Safety Recommendations P?96?14 and 15 are classified "Open ?Unacceptable Response" and P?96?16 is classified as "Open— Await Response." Based on the above discussion, the Department does not plan to take any action. The basis of this decision is explained fully in the referenced correspondence of July 15, 1996. HUD determined that to take any action, as stated, in 1996, would have the Department exceed its statutory authority.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
Date: 6/5/2001
Response: On November 26, 1996, based on information provided in the HUD letter of July 15, 1996, Safety Recommendations P-96-14 and -15 were classified “Open—Unacceptable Response.” In its initial response, HUD outlined the reasons why it declined to implement P?96?14 and -15. The Safety Board urged HUD to reconsider its position. Because HUD did not explain its rationale for not implementing Safety Recommendation P-96-16, it remained classified Open--Await Response.” To date, there has been no further correspondence on these issues, and the Safety Board would appreciate learning what action, if any, has been taken or is planned to implement Safety Recommendations P-96-14 through -16. A copy of the original recommendation letter is enclosed for your reference.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
Date: 11/26/1996
Response: THE BOARD BELIEVES THAT VARIOUS FACTORS & CONDITIONS WARRANT HUD'S RECONSIDERATION OF THE RECOMMENDED ACTIONS. THE BOARD REVIEWED THE RSPA EVALUATION OF EFVS & DETERMINED THAT IT WAS BOTH LIMITED IN SCOPE & NOT AN EFFECTIVE ASSESSMENT OF AVAILABLE INFO. THE EVALUATION CONSIDERED ONLY EFVS IN SINGLE-RESIDENT GAS SERVICE LINES THAT OPERATE ABOVE 1O PSIG ( POUNDS PER SQUARE INCH) PRESSURE; IT DID NOT CONSIDER EFVS IN SERVICE LINES TO MULTISTORY APARTMENT BUILDINGS. THE RSPA HAS NOT PERFORMED AN ASSESSMENT ON USING EFVS IN SERVICE LINES TO BUILDINGS IN WHICH A SINGLE EFV WOULD PROTECT HUNDREDS OF LIVES. AS FOR HUD HAVING NO JURISDICTION TO REQUIRE THAT GAS UTILITIES INSTALL EFVS IN NATURAL GAS SERVICE LINES TO HUD-SUBSIDIZED BUILDINGS, THE BOARD IS AWARE THAT 42 U.S.C 1437 REQUIRES HUD TO ISSUE "MINIMUM HABITABILITY STANDARDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENSURING DECENT, SAFE [EMPHASIS ADDED], & SANITARY HOUSING... " ALSO, TITLE 24 CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS PART 882 CONTAINS NUMEROUS REQUIREMENTS FOR SUBSIDY APPROVAL ESTABLISHED BY HUD, INCLUDING REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO LEAD-BASED PAINTS, SMOKE DETECTORS, & SECURITY. THE BOARD BELIEVES THAT HUD COULD ACHIEVE THE OBJECTIVE OF THE RECOMMENDATION MERELY BY EXPANDING ITS CURRENT SUBSIDY APPROVAL PROVISIONS TO INCLUDE REQUIRING EFVS IN NATURAL GAS LINES TO HUD-SUBSIDIZED BUILDINGS. HUD CAN BE ASSURED THAT GAS UTILITIES WILL EITHER INSTALL EFVS IN ORDER TO OBTAIN THE HOUSING AUTHORITY BUSINESS OR ELECT NOT TO SUPPLY THE BUILDING WITH NATURAL GAS ENERGY. WHICHEVER, THE END RESULT WOULD BE THAT PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN SUBSIDIZED HOUSING WOULD HAVE SAFER LIVING CONDITIONS. YOU STATE THAT IT IS INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE BOARD TO LIMIT ITS PUBLIC SAFETY IMPROVEMENT EFFORTS BY ONLY RECOMMENDING THE USE OF EFVS IN FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED PROGRAM. THIS IS NOT THE INTENT OF OUR REQUESTED ACTIONS. RATHER, OUR PURPOSE IS TO ADVISE HUD THAT A PROVEN SAFETY DEVICE IS AVAILABLE THAT CAN ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF OCCUPANT IN HUD-SUBSIDIZED LIVING UNITS, THAT HUD IS UNIQUELY ABLE TO ENCOURAGE THE USE OF THIS DEVICE, & THE HUD & THE OPERATORS OF ITS SUBSIDIZED HOUSING CAN OBTAIN THIS SAFETY IMPOVEMENT FOR LITTLE OR NO COST BY WORKING WITH LOCAL GAS COMPANIES. THE BOARD ENCOURAGES HUD TO REEXAMINE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF ITS HOUSING. EVEN IF HUD ELECT NOT TO REQUIRE EFVS AS A CONDITION OF SUBSIDY APPROVAL, THE BOARD BELIEVES THAT HUD SHOULD DEVELOP TECHNICAL & MOTIVATIONAL INFO EDUCATING OWNERS & OPERATORS OF FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED LIVING UNITS ABOUT THE SAFETY BENEFITS OF EFVS & HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH GAS COMPANIES TO HAVE EFVS INSTALLED IN NEW & EXISTING GAS SERVICE LINES. UNTIL YOUR STAFF HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO EVALUATE FULLY HOW EFVS CAN ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF RESIDENTS IN FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED HOUSING UNITS & TO CONSIDER HOW HUD MIGHT MOTIVATE OWNERS & OPERATORS TO USE EFVS, P-96-14 & -15 HAVE BEEN CLASSIFIED "OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."

From: United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
To: NTSB
Date: 7/15/1996
Response: HUD EXPRESSED ITS CONCERN ABOUT PROMULGATING NEW REGULATIONS AT A TIME WHEN THE ADMINISTRATION'S GOAL IS TO DEREGULATE. ALSO, THE HUB SECRETARY EXPRESSED HIS BELIEF THAT IT IS RSPA'S RESPONSIBILITY TO DECIDE IF EFVS SHOULD BE INSTALLED FOR HUB-SUBSIDIZED HOUSING. FURTHER, IT WAS NOTED THAT RSPA HAD PERFORMED STUDIES INDICATING THE EFV USE WAS NOT COST EFFECTIVE. HUD DID NOT DIRECTLY ADDRESS P-96-16