It's been six days since the gas main rupture, explosion and fire in Lee County, and Posen Construction -- blamed by TECO gas for causing the incident -- still is making no comment on what happened or why.
However, the office of Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration -- OSHA -- in Tampa, is confirming that investigators are checking out the incident. The assistant director of the OSHA office tells WINK News, the fines for willful violatons of safety rules can range up to 70-thousand dollars. Serious violations can draw fines up to 7-thousand. And repeat offenders can be fined up to 10 times the amount of the original penalty. OSHA must issue a citation, or finding of violation, within 6 months of an incident. The asst. director did not indicate how long the gas fire investigation might last.
TECO Gas is blaming Posen Construction. Therefore, TECO says it it not liable to pay for losses of customers, who didn't have natural gas. Some restaurants have said, they lost tens of thousands of dollars over the weekend, because of no gas.
"It was an act, beyond our control, so we do not have to pay claims," said Patrick Ho of TECO.
Shak Patel, owner of a restaurant near the blast site, says he would like some compensation for lost business, due to no gas from Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening.
"I lost some money, not a huge amount but enough. I want somebody to re-pay me, but I don't know if it's going to happen," said Patel.