Platinum Printing at Ray and Rural

The Aug. 26 gas explosion ripped through Platinum Printing at Ray and Rural roads in Chandler, critically injuring four men.

The Arizona Corporation Commission met with Southwest Gas representatives two weeks ago to resolve three recent gas-related incidents – including one in Chandler – and discuss how to prevent more from happening. 

A plastic pipe that caused an explosion in Chandler, a gas leak that evacuated a Scottsdale neighborhood and tampered pipes on a Phoenix bridge all raise questions for safer protocols in central Arizona’s piping infrastructure, commission members said.

“We cannot allow Arizonans to be afraid of the pipe beneath their feet,” Commissioner Sandra Kennedy said. “I see no greater calling as a commissioner than to protect Arizonans from incidents such as what occurred in Chandler on Aug. 26, 2021.” 

The Chandler explosion happened around 9:30 a.m. at Platinum Printing, a family-owned printing shop for almost 15 years, in a strip mall at Rural and Ray roads.

The owners and brothers, Andrew, and Dillon Ryan were among the four critically injured with burns ranging from 16-30 percent of their bodies. All were treated at the Arizona Burn Center and are expected to make a full recovery. 

The Corporation Commission heard Southwest Gas representatives explain why the blast occurred.

“A crack in the 1 inch- DriscoPipe or “m8000,” resulted in a gas leak that was caused by degradation over time due to elevated temperatures that we see here in Maricopa County,” said Luis Frisby, the utility’s vice president for Central Arizona. “There was an error in the construction records and the pipe was misidentified as another pipe, m8100, which led to false measures to take place.”

The m8000 pipe was purchased by Southwest Gas between 1980 and 1999 and was specifically installed in the Platinum Printing’s building in 1999. In the Scottsdale case, more than 20 homes were evacuated Sept. 9 after an underground gas leak was reported.

According to Southwest Gas, the DriscoPipe or “m8000,” was the pipe identified in the Scottsdale leak.

Southwest Gas President/CEO John Hester told commissioners that prompt actions are being taken to implement new protocols so that “situations that we’ve had in Chandler and Scottsdale never happen again.” 

“It will include extensive leak inspections, including mobile and walking leak patrols of pipe installations and similar types installed in 1999 to 2001,” Hester said

Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, was one of the three public callers in the meeting who expressed concerns over future gas leaks and emphasized the need to hold utilities accountable.

“While Southwest Gas and other gas companies can come before you today or in the future and try to provide justification for each leak, the fact of the matter remains that the commission needs to remember that anywhere there is gas, there is a possibility for leaks,” Brown said. 

“It is clear to us that the commission needs to hold Southwest Gas and other companies accountable for maintaining and operating their equipment and discourage investment in newer advancement in gas infrastructure,” said Brown. 

Southwest Gas promised a documented outline for more enhanced protocols to be established, to reexamine all potentially hazardous pipes owned by the company and collaborate with other gas companies and entities that may use m8000 pipes. 

There was no indication of any fines anticipated, and the commission is considering another workshop with Southwest Gas and other gas companies to discuss further action. 

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