Employee error caused natural gas outage

Posted at 11:20 PM, Apr 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-04 23:33:57-04

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- The Fort Pierce Utility Authority says an employee error caused a massive natural gas outage in December 2015 that left some residents without gas for nearly a week.


A report from FPUA said two employees were reopening gas valves after they had been temporarily closed. FPUA said an employee went to open the valve, but it wouldn’t move because the valve was already open. The employee then turned the valve off, thinking they were turning it on.


Nearly 2400 customers were impacted, which included residents and many downtown business owners.


“I saw the news, we had a problem with the gas,” said Woody Yoosaent, owner of Thai Pepper Restaurant in downtown Fort Pierce.


Yoosaent said he had to completely close his doors for 3 days until his natural gas was restored.


Other businesses stayed open that could serve limited menus.


Many businesses saw a loss in profits as a result of the natural gas outage, including Yoosaent. “Maybe $4,000 to $5,000.”


Mayor Linda Hudson says the city will not be reimbursing businesses that were impacted by the gas outage. Hudson said businesses will need to use their insurance for reimburse.


Hudson says the city did explore ways to try to help business owners.


Yoosaent has insurance, but would like the city to make sure he breaks even. “Maybe even $2,000 or something like that,” Yoosaent said.


The employees in question will not be fired, but are receiving additional training.


FPUA also noted other communications issues during the gas leak which are being addressed.