No permit pulled before K.C. blast

Feb. 25, 2013 at 9:55 PM
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KANSAS CITY, Mo., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The firm whose crew hit a gas line that led to a deadly blast and fire at a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant didn't pull a permit first, city officials said Monday.

City officials said no permit was issued ahead of the incident that leveled JJ's restaurant last Tuesday, killing one person and injuring 15 others, The Kansas City Star reported. City spokesman Pat Klein said the firm applied for the permit for the trenching work in an email the day after the explosion.

Heartland Midwest LLC workers reported to authorities they had struck a natural gas line while installing cable for Time Warner Cable near the restaurant, the newspaper said.

The Star said an attorney representing Heartland was not immediately available for comment.

City ordinances allow for a fine of up to $500 and six-month jail term for digging. City prosecutor Lowell Gard said it would be up to the codes department to decide whether to pursue charges, the newspaper said.

Missouri One-Call, the system set up so utilities can mark underground lines before excavation, said the company did notify utility companies Feb. 6 of its intention to work near the eatery. Heartland called again on the day of the blast to ask to have the lines remarked.

An official for Missouri Gas Energy, which the Star said is responsible for accurate markings, said Monday he didn't know the status of the markings the day the work was done.

The newspaper said one of JJ's customers, attorney Julie Anderson, said she heard workers talking about the markings.

"There were guys who were yelling at each other, 'Who marked this?'" Anderson said.

Bob Leonberger, pipeline safety program manager for the state Public Service Commission told the Star the markings will be among the factors looked at during the investigation into the incident.

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration also is investigating.

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