Pa. lawmaker pushes for PGW death benefit

Families of PGW workers killed in natural gas explosions may soon be eligible for the same death benefit provided to survivors of firefighters and police.

Lawmakers announced the proposal Thursday at the Gasworkers Union Hall in Northeast Philadelphia.

State Sen. Mike Stack proposed the legislation in response to the death of Mark Keeley, a 19-year-old PGW employee killed in January when a leaky gas line he was repairing exploded.

“This is going to continue to be an unsafe job,” Stack said. “The least we can do is try to put these emergency responders, who are gas workers, into the category of other folks who run toward danger instead of away from it.”

Accidents such as Keeley’s are rare, but Stack predicts aging gas lines result in increasingly dangerous situations. The January blast injured four other workers and destroyed a building in the Tacony section of Philadelphia.

“This is something I see as only getting worse,” he said.

A one-time, $150,000 payment would come from the state’s general fund. Stack expects broad support for the bill.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.