Resident living in 'nightmare' road where Portsmouth explosion took place says his 'life is ruined' amid PTSD suffering

NEIGHBOURS in a road where a gas explosion erupted are still dealing with the fallout from the incident, with one resident saying: ‘My life has been ruined.’

People living in Whale Island Way are still living a ‘nightmare’ following the New Year’s Day 2021 blast that saw Michael McCormick and his wife, Montse, and son Mark, miraculously survive after being blown out of their house.

The family were evacuated to nearby HMS Excellent along with residents from the street after the eruptions left three houses in ruins with debris catapulted across the area.

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The home destroyed home in Whale Island Way in Stamshaw, Portsmouth, on January 3 after a New Year's Day suspected gas explosion forced them to flee. Picture: Ben Fishwick

As reported in December, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the blast was the result of a ‘failed’ gas service pipe to the property.

HSE issued gas operator SGN with actions. ‘The investigation has confirmed that the explosion was caused by the failure of the gas service pipe to the property,’ a spokesman said.

‘HSE issued the gas network with actions to ensure the integrity of the gas services to other properties in Whale Island way.

‘HSE is satisfied that these have now been completed by the gas network and, based on current evidence, no further enforcement action is planned.’

But despite the HSE findings, a neighbour has revealed the daily struggles that still persist.

Pensioner Tony Wilson, 69, who lives two doors away from the McCormicks’ house, said the ordeal had affected his health. He told The News he now suffers with PTSD thanks to 14 months of ‘nightmare works and total cowboy town attitudes allowed to exist by all responsible authorities’.

‘I did not have any light in my back rooms for 11 months. No garden flowers or fun in the garden for my family in 2021,’ he said

‘My life has been ruined by SGN who cannot even have the decency to own up and say “we are sorry”.

‘No support has been given to residents and we are living next door to a nightmare with so many chapters that ruin our lives day and night. Work is still proceeding, possibly for another six months.’

Tony said he had received no communication from SGN and was critical of the ‘corrosion’ and failure to replace pipework in the 1980s, as mentioned in the HSE findings.

The resident said two houses are having to be rebuilt with an ‘unknown status’ of the council property adding to woes.

Tony added: ‘In the middle of the pandemic with this gas explosion my health is shot. PTSD has taken over my life now.’

In a letter to SGN, seen by The News, HSE wrote last year: ‘HSE intends to take no further formal action other than the letter which has already been sent to SGN in relation to this matter. The general issues related to the management of gas service integrity.’

The letter went on to say: ‘Initial investigations, including external and internal camera surveys, have revealed the service to the property had fractured and appeared to be subject to substantial external corrosion.

‘The main supplying the property was confirmed as polyethylene and the service was recorded as being replaced in 1984. It appeared that the service had only been partially replaced and the part of the service pipe which had failed appears not to have been replaced at this time.

‘Whilst SGN were not responsible for the network at that point, clearly the service pipe is considered part of the network and is subject to the Pipelines Safety Regulations.’

The letter added that it is the network operator’s ‘duty to ensure that a pipeline is maintained in an efficient state, in effective working order and in good repair’.

Meanwhile Michael said before Christmas they were still in limbo and might not be back in the house until Christmas 2022.

‘Things are starting to pick up pace which is good but the house needs to be rebuilt before we can move in and get on with our lives,’ he said.

‘I can understand why progress has been slow. It was obviously dangerous and they had to make sure things were safe. It’s a long winded process. I think we’ll be lucky to be back in before Christmas next year.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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