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Southwest Gas Blames Plastic Pipes, Mapping Error For Incidents In Chandler And Scottsdale

Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 9:04am
Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 6:13pm
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Southwest Gas Corporation said a recent explosion in Chandler and a leak in north Scottsdale both involved a type of plastic pipe that can deteriorate under certain conditions.

The vulnerable kind of pipe is old, has a small diameter, was near or totally inactive for a long time and exposed to hot temperatures.

Investigators found a crack on this kind of pipe near the Chandler explosion, and a pipe stub was the source of the Scottsdale leak.

Neither had drawn safety scrutiny from Southwest Gas because they were wrongly identified in the company’s mapping system.

President and CEO John Hester spoke to the Arizona Corporation Commission on Tuesday.    

“There basically was, for a lack of a more technical characterization, a record-keeping error,” he said.

Southwest Gas said it’s now checking records, doing leak patrols in warm areas, and putting long-inactive pipe into an established abandonment program.

Hear Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy's Interview With Hosts Mark Brodie And Steve Goldstein On KJZZ's The Show

Another top company official told the Commissioners an initial review has shown there was a gas leak under the north side of the 7th Street bridge in Phoenix, which had to be closed for months this year after a gas-line fire.

Luis Frisby said the flange connection where the leak occurred had also been tampered with or vandalized. 

“The ATF is the lead investigation agency for this incident and they presently have custody of the pipe and fittings,” he said.

Frisby added that a review of the fire continues.

Trails that are part of a habitat restoration area near the 7th Street bridge won’t fully reopen for months.  

Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, a Democrat, was the one who called on her four colleagues to create Tuesday's meeting.

The Show spoke with her to discuss what she and other commissioners learned, and what comes next.

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