Contractor fined over safety at other sites;Officials identify woman killed in Ewing explosion

Contractor fined over safety at other sites;Officials identify woman killed in Ewing explosion

Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), March 6, 2014
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The contractor working at the site of Tuesday’s townhouse explosion in Ewing that killed one woman was recently fined more than $100,000 by safety regulators for problems at two other sites, records show.

Blue Bell, Pa.-based Henkels & McCoy was cited last year by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violations involving signaling, warning signs and protection of workers during excavations. The company is contesting the fines.

Records provided by OSHA show Henkels & McCoy was fined $70,000 in March 2013 for safety violations at a site in Bayonne and $42,000 for violations in Neptune in August.

Henkels & McCoy was working for Public Service Electric & Gas, replacing electric service to the blast victim’s home when it damaged a gas line, the utility said. PSE&G said it was told of the damage about noon Tuesday and crews were repairing the line about an hour later when “ignition” occurred, obliterating the home, damaging more than 50 others and injuring seven utility workers.

The company said it is cooperating fully in the investigation.

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of life,” company spokesman Dave Lamoreaux said. “Obviously this is a significant event for Henkels & McCoy as well. We are a 90-year-old company that prides itself on doing good, solid work in the community, and we will support the investigation in any way we can.”

At a news conference late yesterday, Mike Gaffney, a PSE&G director of gas construction, expressed confidence in the contractor. He said the utility had a long-standing relationship with the firm, that it had done good work and that there had been no prior problems.

Meanwhile, the woman killed in the explosion was identified yesterday as Linda Cerritelli, 62, who lived in the unit leveled in the blast. She was a regional office coordinator for a prescription drug unit at Johnson & Johnson, the company confirmed.

Her body was found late Tuesday on a car some distance from the house, police said. She was identified through dental records.

Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann said the gas line that was damaged had been marked out.

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