Reporting John Shumway
ELLWOOD CITY (KDKA) — A growing number of people across the country, including here in Pennsylvania, are joining a lawsuit that involves a natural gas conduit that you could have in your home.
They are easy to spot because they are bright yellow, and when mixed with lightning can have catastrophic results.
Just under two months ago, Ellwood City attorney Joe Bellissimo’s home and office in New Syrmna Beach, Fla., caught fire and became engulfed in flames.
“We believe that lightning caused the fire until the next morning,” said Bellissimo.
That’s when his insurance company started asking questions about something called CSST, or corrugated stainless steel tubing.
It’s a flexible gas line that Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley was warning homeowners about just last week.
“The risk involves potential for damage associated with lightning,” said Lt. Gov. Cawley.
“It travels either through the CSST itself or through another conduit causing small cracks,” added Bellissimo.
Allowing the gas to leak and possibly explode.
“It’s used in as many as 400,000 homes in Pennsylvania, in homes that have been built or renovated since 1990,” said Lt. Gov. Cawley.
Including the Pipsqueaks Child Care Center in Ellwood City where owner Chris Locke is concerned.
So on Pipsqueaks’ behalf Bellissimo this week filed suit against the industry that makes CSST gas conduits. The suit joins similar actions in Maryland, Florida and soon Texas.
KDKA’s John Shumway: “The industry maintains that if it’s properly grounded, properly installed it’s safe.”
Bellissimo: “Well, experts – and it’s a matter of public record – have stated otherwise.”
Locke: “All I would like is for the line to be changed so it’s safe, that’s all.”
A similar suit in Arkansas reached a settlement in 2006, but it’s estimated up to 8 million homes in the United States have the gold CSST conduits.
“It’s a pretty safe bet that if your gas transmission lines are yellow then you have the CSST Generation One transmissions lines that are a problem,” said Aaron Rihn, Esq., of Robert Peirce & Associates.
Shumway: “This is personal to you.”
Bellissimo: “Very personal because I could have been killed, and more importantly if my wife and children had been with me when I was working, they could have been killed.”