Fine Issued, Rebuilding Continues After Fires

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FAIRPORT HARBOR-- Dominion East Ohio is forced to pay a $500,000 fine for an incident where high-pressure natural gas was blasted through people's homes, causing explosions and fires throughout the village of Fairport Harbor.

Eleven buildings were destroyed.

According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, on the morning of January 24, 2011, fluid got into two low pressure regulating devices and caused the underground gas pressure to skyrocket and spew into people's homes.

Wednesday, PUCO issued an order to Dominion East Ohio mandating the system have a safe design, more safeguards and inspections, and ordered the multibillion dollar company to pay half a million dollars.

"Seems like a drop in the bucket," Fairport Harbor Mayor Tim Manross said, adding they will not see any of that money.

"The $500,000 is going to the state. How was the state harmed in any of this? The village of Fairport Harbor and its residents were harmed," Manross said.

"What's the state going to do with it, build a road?" resident Rose Williams said.

A PUCO spokesman said the $500,000 fine is the maximum they could impose by law, and this was the second fine issued.

Nearly two years after the explosion, the streets of Fairport Harbor are still being torn up and replaced as Dominion East Ohio builds a new underground gas system.

"There have been a lot of questions here unanswered, and the people here deserve answers," Susan Kusmier said.

In response to the order, Dominion East Ohio released a statement that said, in part:

“Dominion East Ohio has taken actions to enhance the operational effectiveness and safety of its natural gas delivery system in response to a pipeline safety incident that occurred Jan. 24, 2011, in Fairport Harbor, Ohio.”

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