By Cleve Bryan
TRENTON (CBS) — As clean up and investigations continue into the fatal gas explosion in Ewing Township the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities made a pledge to find the root cause and take actions to prevent another catastrophe.
“The board offers its heartfelt condolences to the family of Linda Cerritelli, our thoughts remain with Ewing and all those affected,” said BPU president Dianne Solomon in a statement read during a scheduled board meeting Wednesday.
Ewing TWP says they’ve wrapped up their own police and fire investigations concluding that gas leaked from a damaged main line and exploded inside 28 Crockett Lane.
“Gas just travels the easiest path so it was going through the fissures in the shale and some cracks in the concrete and it seeped into the house,” says Mayor Bert Steinmann.
Steinmann also says the township is now certain neither PSEG nor their contractor Henkels and McCoy reported the gas leak to 911 prior to the explosion.
“Knowing what we know now after listening to the tapes and having all the information – no, there was never a 911 call made before the explosion,” says Steinmann.
The township is weighing their options with regards to seeking repayment for costs incurred by the explosion.
A PSEG spokesperson told CBS 3 on Wednesday they have no timeline for when they’ll have their investigation finished and they say there have been no changes in their business relationship with Henkels and McCoy.
OSHA which is conducting the main investigation into the gas leak says their investigation is ongoing and they have six months to complete it.
Steinmann plans to recommend to the BPU that utility contractors always notify municipalities before starting work. He is also working on a resolution to present to town council to waive reconstruction fees.
Starting Wednesday homeowners affected by the blast were able to pick up $500 checks at the municipal building. It’s the first wave of money being distributed from Disaster Relief Fund.
CBS 3 received the following statement from the company who manages the home owners association in South Fork:
“We have 39 homeowners displaced. A number of homes have already packed out and we are in the process of shoring up the most severely damaged homes to make them safe for the homeowners to retrieve their belongings. Once all of the homes have been packed out the process of reconstruction will begin.”