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Shapiro Administration Provides Additional Updates on Plum Stray Gas Investigation

DEP releases preliminary test results relating to house explosion in Rustic Ridge



Plum, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has completed its analysis of preliminary test results from its stray gas investigation relating to the house explosion in the Rustic Ridge neighborhood of Plum Borough in Allegheny County. Preliminary results are not indicative of a stray gas migration incident.


Under the Governor's direction, on Monday morning, August 14, 2023, in coordination with local and County authorities, DEP inspectors began conducting a stray gas investigation at the incident site to look for sources of combustible gas near the structure, and inspected nearby natural gas-related facilities and infrastructure under DEP's jurisdiction.


DEP inspectors found detectible concentrations of combustible gas throughout this area on August 14, but that gas is no longer detectible throughout soils near the incident. Isotopic samples, which help to identify molecular signatures, were collected by DEP and Peoples Natural Gas (PNG) on August 14 from soils and a nearby PNG gas meter. A total of 18 points of interest were investigated. Gas samples were collected from 5 of those locations for isotopic analysis. Those locations include the area around a leaking gas pipeline, gas in the soil near a Peoples meter, and under the foundation of the home.


Preliminary results are not indicative of a stray gas migration incident. The findings suggest that concentrations of gas detected on August 14 came from single inundation event, likely the explosion itself. 


In addition, DEP identified a total of seven conventional oil and gas wells and two gathering pipelines within a 2,500 ft radius of the home. DEP inspected those wells and pipelines immediately following the incident and determined that they were all in compliance. One of the two pipelines, a suction line to a compressor station, was known to be leaking, but had been taken out of commission one week prior to the incident.


The other pipeline, a gathering line which ties into the suction line, was taken out of service immediately after the incident out of an abundance of caution. That gathering line passed a pressure test on August 15 with no leaks detected.


Out of an abundance of caution, on August 25, DEP worked to facilitate the distribution of combustible gas detectors to the 227 houses in the Rustic Ridge neighborhood. DEP estimates that around 90% of the units were picked up for the houses in the community, and remaining residents will be contacted by the Rustic Ridge homeowner's association to secure their detectors should they want them.


The Shapiro Administration also collaborated with Allegheny County to provide support to residents at a multi-agency resource center held at the Plum Borough Municipal Complex Gymnasium. County, state, and federal agencies helped impacted homeowners with services such as license replacements from PennDOT and assistance with insurance carriers through the PA Department of Insurance.


For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, please visit the website or follow DEP on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.


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