(WXYZ) - The Michigan Public Service Commission has released two reports detailing their investigations into two massive explosions that leveled buildings in Royal Oak and Wayne.
The first report regards the blast that destroyed Franks Furniture in Wayne on December 29, 2010 , killing two people. The second explosion destroyed a home on Cooper Avenue in Royal Oak on February 27, 2013 , killing one man.
In the case of the Cooper Avenue house explosion, the Michigan Public Service Commission found that three Consumers Energy Crews were not following company procedures in regards to boring practices while installing a plastic main to replace the existing steel main.
In particular, the report says the Consumers crews did not follow the procedure to expose the gas lines through hand digging and did not remove the sidewalk over the gas line.
The report also found that the crews did not maintain the required 12 inches of clearance between the old gas service and the new gas line they were installing. In fact, the investigation determined that in three cases along Cooper Avenue, the existing steel service line was hit and damaged by the boring for the new line.
In the case of the Cooper Avenue explosion, this resulted in damage to the line and let gas make its way into the house.
The report also found that a supervisor was only on the scene once during the project, and that was to drop off construction drawings. It concludes that if a supervisor had been on the job site, it would have been apparent that proper procedure was not followed.
The report also found that in three cases the line was not installed at the required depth. It also reveals that two of the employees on site were not qualified to locate pipelines.
As for the Consumers Energy's crews' actions just before the blast, the report says the crews left the scene despite several crew members smelling gas and detecting it with their equipment.
While the crews did search for a leak, they were unable to find it. However, the report also says they did not properly follow Consumers Energy's leak investigation procedures and left the site before another employee that had been dispatched to the scene could arrive.
In particular, the report says the investigation the employees performed was not thorough enough to determine the spread of the gas leak.
The explosion occurred four minutes after the crews left the scene and 22 minutes before the field service worker who had been sent to the scene arrived.
In the case of the Franks Furniture explosion, the Public Service Commission found that the explosion occurred when natural gas made its way into the building from a leak that was in a manhole 233 feet outside the furniture store.
The gas was able to enter the building through the nearby sanitary sewer system.
The Public Service Commission has determined that the gas main was most likely damaged during nearby construction of a sanitary sewer line by the City of Wayne.
The city also installed a poured concrete wall at the edge of a parking lot after the gas main was installed. The footing for the wall encased the gas main and prevented it from moving as the ground froze and thawed.
The report also says that line was affected by the concrete footings for a chain-link fence. Investigators found that the concrete footings for the fence post were sitting on top of the gas main at multiple locations.
At the time of the explosion, the report says, a Consumers Energy employee was in the area, responding to calls about a gas leak. Officials found that the employee was sporadically able to smell natural gas in the area, but could not detect it on his equipment. Consumers was in the process of dispatching additional equipment to the area when the explosion occurred.
However, the employee working to find the gas leak was actually the second Consumers employee to be dispatched to the scene. Another employee was sent during the morning hours.
That employee was also unable to find the leak during a 20 minute search of the area.
However, the Michigan Public Service Commission report says the employee did not follow company policy and perform what is known as a bar-hole test over the gas main and did not discusses their findings with a field leader before leaving the site.
The report concludes that performing a bar-hole test and discussing findings with a field leader may have led to actions that could have located the leak and led to the evacuation of the area.
Consumers Energy has released the following statement regarding the reports:
We fully accept the Commission’s conclusions and the fine announced today by the MPSC and Attorney General Schuette. As we’ve said previously, these incidents failed to meet our standards, or the standards expected by our customers across Michigan. For the Royal Oak incident, we have announced disciplinary measures, including terminations, for employees involved in this incident who failed to follow established policies and procedures. We have