New report faults gas company in JJ’s explosion

JJ's explosiion Missouri Gas Energy workers did not act quickly enough to evaluate a gas leak and protect life and property in the JJ’s explosion and fire, a new report concludes.

The findings of the Missouri Public Service Commission staff report also prompted them to file a complaint against MGE.

The complaint to the commission recommends that it approve seeking financial penalties in state court.

The report states that on Feb. 19, drilling by contractor Heartland Midwest LLC struck an improperly marked two-inch gas line and they called MGE.

The gas company first responder arrived at 5:16 p.m. and energy company workers entered JJ’s at about 5:48 p.m.

They soon told people to leave the restaurant, but “…MGE personnel did not project any sense of urgency to exit the building,” the report stated.

People were still inside when the explosion and fire happened at about 6:02 p.m., resulting in the death of Megan Cramer, a restaurant worker, and injuries to 15 others.

Gas company workers took too much time to begin their leak investigation inside buildings, the report states.

“Based on the strong odor of natural gas and the hissing and bubbling of natural gas,” it states, they should have followed emergency plan procedures.

The report found that natural gas leaked from the below the street possibly through sewer lines or other openings into the restaurant.

Investigators could not determine what ignited it.

A previous report by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Heartland Midwest for violating safety rules when it drilled into the gas line.

OSHA recommended about $160,000 in penalties for Heartland, which it is contesting.

There have also been several Jackson County court lawsuits filed related to the accident.


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