Businesses Sue Over OR Pipeline Explosion
Over three years after a pipeline explosion, in Portland, Oregon, which caused over $17 million in property damage and a number of injuries, two business owners recently announced intentions to file a lawsuit against the company doing excavation work at the time of the incident. A handful of lawsuits have already been filed by others.
Portland Bagelworks owners Kim and Rik Bartel have reportedly announced a lawsuit against Loy Clark Pipeline for $2.6 million, and Dosha SalonSpa has also filed against the company for $1.4 million.
2016 Pipeline Explosion
According to an incident investigation report by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, on the morning of Oct. 19, 2016, Loy Clark Pipeline was installing a junction box in a sidewalk for Comcast. During this work, the company reportedly struck an unmarked natural gas line with a backhoe excavator. Though the 1-inch service line did not leak where the damage was inflicted, the line was pulled, resulting in the severing of a connection to a valve. In turn, this led to natural gas moving under the sidewalk and accumulating in the basement of a nearby building.
At around 9:38 that morning, an explosion ocurred in the basement, which was followed by a second explosion. The building in question was destroyed and nearby structures also sustained damage. A third explosion was also recorded.
According to the report, the incident was also chalked up to Loy Clark Pipeline failing to give the Oregon Utility Notification Center enough notice about the work.
News station KATU News reported later in October 2016 that the contractor had six OSHA violations over the last five years (meaning 2016 and prior). To date, more than 10 lawsuits have been filed in connection to the incident.
In March of 2017, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division fined Loy Clark Pipeline Co. $4,900. This was reportedly due to the company conducting work on the north side of Northwest Glisan Street, when the report indicates that paperwork named the south side as the point of work.
At the time, Loy Clark spokesperson Andrea Fonkert noted that the company was reviewing the citation before issuing a response.
"We are truly sorry for what happened. In our 60-year history, we've never been involved with an accident like this. We appreciate the work of the agencies involved with these investigations,” Fonkert told OregonLive via email at the time.
According to KATU News, the Bartells alleged in a recent lawsuit that Loy Clark Pipeline knew about the natural gas pipeline but continued work anyway. The Bartells also claim that the stress of losing their business may have caused their 21-year-old daughter to have a stroke a month after the incident.
Both Portland Bagelworks and Dosha SalonSpa included accusations of trespassing in their filings.
Andrea Blessum, a spokesperson for Loy Clark Pipeline, informed OregonLive that the company could not comment on the litigation at this time.