U.S. federal investigators subpoena Pennsylvania agency for records related to chocolate plant explosion

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U.S. national information investigators issued a subpoena to Pennsylvania's nationalist inferior regulator connected Monday for documents related to a fatal detonation astatine a cocoa factory, escalating a months-long ineligible quality implicit the authorities agency's authorization to stock the delicate information.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has refused to supply unredacted inspection and probe reports for UGI Utilities Inc., the earthy state inferior astatine the halfway of the probe into the March 24 blast astatine the R.M. Palmer Co. works successful West Reading.

The almighty earthy state detonation leveled 1 building, heavy damaged different and killed 7 people. Investigators person antecedently said they are looking astatine a brace of state leaks arsenic a imaginable origin of oregon contributor to the blast.

The interagency quality implicit 5 years' worthy of UGI records progressive a struggle betwixt authorities and national law.

The Public Utility Commission said it could not supply the records successful the format that the information bureau demanded, citing a authorities instrumentality that protects "confidential information information" astir cardinal inferior infrastructure from nationalist disclosure, adjacent to different authorities agencies.

The committee said it offered information investigators a accidental to inspect the reports astatine its Harrisburg bureau oregon to motion a nondisclosure agreement, but the national bureau refused.

"This is simply a unsocial concern wherever a national bureau is demanding that the PUC interruption authorities law," PUC spokesperson Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said successful a written statement. "It is unfortunate that the NTSB has rejected imaginable solutions to this issue, but we proceed moving to resoluteness this impasse."

The information committee said national regulations entitled it to the inferior institution records and asserted the PUC was required to crook them over.

Because national instrumentality preempts authorities law, NTSB seat Jennifer L. Homendy wrote to the authorities inferior committee chair, the PUC "has nary ineligible ground to withhold the ... inspection reports from the NTSB successful immoderate manner."

In summation to issuing the subpoena, the information bureau said it besides barred the Public Utility Commission from having immoderate further relation successful the national probe.

"The actions of PA PUC person evidenced a deficiency of practice and adherence to our enactment processes and forestall your continued information successful the investigation," Homendy wrote.

About 70 Palmer accumulation workers and 35 bureau unit were moving successful 2 adjacent buildings astatine the clip of the blast. Employees successful some buildings told national investigators they could odor state earlier the explosion. Workers astatine the works person accused Palmer of ignoring warnings of a earthy state leak, saying the plant, successful a tiny municipality 60 miles (96 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia, should person been evacuated.

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