Councilmember O'Brien left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Seeking Justice for Greenwood Businesses Blown Apart by PSE

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Nearly one year ago an explosion rocked the Greenwood neighborhood early on the morning of March 9.  The Puget Sound Energy (PSE) gas line explosion traumatized the neighborhood and decimated local businesses. Recently I had the opportunity to stand with five area business owners who shared their stories about the devastating effects on the neighborhood, the crippling effects on their small businesses, and the burdensome bureaucracy that has stalled efforts around reimbursement to stabilize their financial outlook.

It’s staggering that no one paid with their lives in an explosion of this magnitude.  But the true cost is the profit lost by the community.  Together we walked through their shuttered or broken businesses which served as a painful reminder of the true cost of recovery and repair. It’s clear that many local businesses are still suffering from a blast that was the result of negligence.  Meanwhile, PSE has not offered any compensation to these individuals, and hasn’t changed their internal policies that would otherwise create safer conditions for all PSE customers and the surrounding community. If our local businesses continue to struggle or shutter all together under a non-response by PSE, then how can we be sure the company won’t be negligent again?  We need to know the that places we live and work are secure and being monitored; like bridges or oil trains, we defer to the experts to check all the natural gas lines, and determined that they are safe, and will not cause a devastating explosion like the one experienced in Greenwood.

Councilmember Mike O'Brien's Signature  

Media Mentions

Greenwood businesses still reeling from explosion seek ‘justice’ from PSE| KUOW

Take responsibility for explosion, Greenwood business owners tell PSE| My Northwest

PSE hasn’t tracked abandoned gas lines; businesses want utility to pay for Explosion| The Seattle Times

Businesses affected by last year’s natural gas explosion call Puget Sound Energy negligent and call for the utility to accept responsibility| PhinneyWood

Greenwood businesses affected by last year’s gas explosion want PSE to pay| Q13


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Comment from Jonathan Jenkins
Time February 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

In addition to pressing PSE to pay up, which you should indeed do, please also press for more law enforcement with regards to trespassing between buildings where infrastructure such as this can be disrupted with disastrous consequences. I have personally witnessed folks slipping between the buildings and doing drug deals with their goods stashed between Greenwood buildings. Initial news reports from this particular explosion pointed at the gas line having been disrupted by people who admitted to “accessing their possessions” between the affected buildings. I have also observed around Wallingford where homeless folks have barricaded themselves in between buildings just like the ones in Greenwood. We are blessed that nobody was killed this time around, but without a policy of prevention, we may not get out unscathed the next time.

Comment from Jean Darsie
Time February 24, 2017 at 5:00 pm

I found this update on the Greenwood tragedy very moving.
The lack of accountability on the part of Puget Sound Energy has caused me to rethink whether I want to continue doing business with them.

Comment from Fred Stukenberg
Time February 24, 2017 at 5:44 pm

It’s a disturbing event and luckily no one was seriously injured. Is PSE really the villain here? Illicit traffic between the buildings is indicated as a source of damage causing the leak. Growing up in Chicago there was a common term “Greek lightning” for such events since they were a routine insurance scam for gyro shops which was ground zero for this event. I’m all for better safety with gas but it should be done in a more positive manner rather than just blame and pay up. PSE is much easier to work with and customer responsive than say City Light.

Comment from Susan Stillman
Time February 25, 2017 at 8:26 am

Press the council to make PSE fines payable to business owners who were impacted.

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