Woodbridge, VA – Residents were speaking out on Sunday, a day after Washington Gas revealed approximately 800 homes in Woodbridge’s Marumsco Hills neighborhood would need their natural gas pipes replaced.
The announcement came at a town hall meeting, stemming from a natural gas leak, which led to a home explosion on the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday.
Shards of broken glass were still strewn across the front yard of the one-story red brick home in the 14100 block of Franklin Street. A basement window remains boarded up.
“The smell was strong and then there was a loud ‘boom,'” said Walter Jurado, as he recalled the explosion.
Virginia State Senator Jeremy McPike (D) said he spearheaded the town hall after receiving a barrage of emails and phone calls from his constituents.
“When parents put their kids to bed and go to sleep, they want to know they are safe,” McPike stated. “That’s what people want to know, has their house been checked, and if so, is it safe.”
On Saturday, McPike, Washington Gas brass, members of Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) and around 50 residents gathered for a town hall meeting. There, the public learned utility crews (armed with infrared and natural gas detectors) identified 10 additional “grade one” emergency leaks throughout Marumsco Hills. Fifteen minor leaks were also detected. Repair work was being scheduled. Washington Gas also disclosed that 800 additional homes would need their natural gas pipes replaced, not because of a leak, but rather due to age.
“Why did it take so long to find them,” Carl Jones, who’s lived in Marumsco Hills for 35 years, asked.
Washington Gas crews dug up part of Jones’ driveway, repairing a faulty gas line.
“You have to maintain your gas lines, your oil lines, your water lines, your electrical lines. Washington Gas shouldn’t just wait until something blows up,” Jones added.
The incident lead SCC to start an investigation into whether Washington Gas was negligent in maintaining its natural gas lines in Marumsco Hills, and if it ignored warning signs.
“I want to see the State Corporation Commission’s report on exactly did Washington Gas’ follow procedures, what happened, how this got missed; which is a big question that’s still pending,” McPike concluded.
Washington Gas spokesman Jim Monroe told ABC7 by email:
“Six representatives of Washington Gas, including our senior vice president of operations, participated in a town hall in Woodbridge yesterday. We were happy to have the chance to update residents on our work in the neighborhood since the Feb. 7 incident and to field their questions. It was a very interactive discussion and we are committed to maintaining open lines of communication with the community.”