Prove your humanity

Pennsylvania’s attorney general has filed criminal charges against natural gas company Equitrans Midstream Corporation over a 2018 Greene County house explosion.

Attorney General Michelle Henry said Canonsburg-based Equitrans is accused of violating the state’s Clean Streams Law. An investigation revealed a damaged gas storage well near the residence leaked gas into groundwater and the home, resulting in the explosion.

A couple and their child were injured in the blast. They sustained serious burns and their Morgan Township home was leveled.

“Corporations like Equitrans work with substances that are important to our comfortable modern lives, but which have the potential to be incredibly dangerous and cause significant harm to the people, families and businesses in the communities in which they operate. Therefore, because of this, it is critical that they adhere to the regulations that exist to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Pennsylvania,” said Henry. “Equitrans failed to do that.”

A statewide grand jury recommended charges for failing to properly maintain a storage well and failing to conduct an investigation after the explosion. Equitrans faces three misdemeanors and a felony and could be responsible for fines and restitution.

Meanwhile, representatives for the company took issue with the investigation’s findings.

“First and foremost, Equitrans fully cooperated with this grand jury investigation, and we believe the substantial operational evidence that we presented to the state factually demonstrates that Equitrans’ operations were not the cause of the incident,” company spokesperson Natalie Cox said in an email.

“We are reviewing the presentment in its entirety and will fully defend our position in this matter.”

Cody White was in the home at the time of the blast, along with his girlfriend and young child. White turned on the stove to make his son a meal when the gas buildup ignited and blew up the house.

A lawyer for the family said a separate civil lawsuit seeking damages is also pending in the Greene County Court of Common Pleas.