State regulators investigating gas plant explosion

WASHINGTON UTILITIES AND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION NEWS RELEASE -- Pipeline safety investigators from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) are responding to the scene of an early morning explosion and fire at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility, a liquefied natural gas plant outside Plymouth, Wash.

The local fire department, police, and the company are first responders in this situation. Their priorities are to put out the fire, secure the area, and ensure public safety at the scene. The commission is in regular contact with Williams Northwest.

The UTC investigator, who is a pipeline engineer, will investigate the cause of the explosion and fire after the site is secured. They will also ensure that no evidence is disturbed, and maintain communications with the western region of the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Established by the Legislature in 1955, the UTC's Pipeline Safety Program regulates the safety practices of 28 pipeline companies and conducts safety inspections on more than 24,000 miles of natural gas and hazardous-liquid pipelines in Washington. The UTC also regulates the private, investor-owned natural gas utilities in the state.