Plum, PA – Governor Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Rich Negrin today announced they have secured combustible gas detectors for the Rustic Ridge neighborhood in Plum Borough following an explosion that took the lives of six Pennsylvanians and damaged multiple homes. The detectors will be provided at no cost to residents. The origin of and cause of the incident in Plum remains undetermined and is under investigation.
Olympus Energy, a Pennsylvania-based company, has donated 250 detectors to the Rustic Ridge homeowners association. DEP personnel are partnering with the homeowners association to distribute the detectors to residents of Rustic Ridge. DEP’s team of experts will provide residents with guidance for identifying the best location in their homes to install the detectors. While the cause of the house explosion in Plum is still under investigation, gas detection alarms maintained for any home are a beneficial safety item.
“It is imperative that as our investigations advance, we continue to do all we can to support this wonderful community,” said Rich Negrin, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. “I met with families in Rustic Ridge this week who have concerns about their safety following this incident. This is one of a number of efforts by the Shapiro Administration to help provide resources to residents, and we will continue to work alongside our local partners, including Allegheny County, to support the Plum community.”
Combustible gas, like methane, occurs naturally in the environment and is used in many home appliances. While methane gas from a utility company is odorized to help homeowners detect its presence, a combustible gas monitor will detect gas at very low levels and will also detect sources of gas that are not odorized, such as gas emanating directly from wells or natural sources. These monitors offer an extra safeguard for any homeowners concerned about combustible gas inside their homes and will emit an audible signal upon detection.
“Our team is incredibly saddened by this horrific tragedy and have been looking for a way to offer support to the residents of Rustic Ridge,” said Tim Dugan, president and chief executive officer, at Olympus Energy. “To further our commitment to safe homes and communities, today, we are donating 250 home methane detectors to Rustic Ridge families to ensure every homeowner within the neighborhood has one installed in their home. Olympus’ thoughts and sympathies remain with the residents of Rustic Ridge and the Plum community, as well as the first responders who came to their aid.”
Under the Governor’s direction and in coordination with local and county authorities, DEP inspectors began conducting a stray gas investigation at the incident on Monday, August 14, 2023, to look for sources of combustible gas near the site of the explosion and inspecting nearby natural gas-related facilities and infrastructure under DEP’s jurisdiction. DEP’s investigation is ongoing as it continues to work in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s (ACFM) Office, utility operators, and other county and local emergency service agencies. The ACFM continues its investigation into the cause and origin.