SEATTLE — In the morning of March 9, 2016, when the earth around Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood was rocked by the flash of a massive gas explosion, Joonsung Park's family-owned Quick Stop convenience store was reduced to a crater filled with ruins.
"At the time I didn't want to tell any of my family members the shocking news," Park said. His father was in hospice, dying of cancer, and his wife was four months pregnant.
All that was found in the Greenwood Quick Stop was parts of the cash register and two soggy bags of unsold scratch lottery tickets. The blast damaged more than 30 other businesses and injured nine Seattle firefighters.
The state Utilities and Transportation Commission ruled the explosion was Puget Sound Energy's responsibility, caused by a retired gas line they say PSE never capped. The UTC ascribed damage to "an above-ground service line by trespassers who regularly accessed the space where the line was located."
The UTC fined PSE $1.5 million and required the utility to inspect and remediate more than 40,000 retired gas lines in the next three years.
Park filed a claim with PSE for about $100,000 to cover his walk-in coolers and the rest of the structure he paid for.
"It's the least amount of money that I can use to re-open my business again," Park said.
After filing the claim, Park he said emailed PSE over the next four months for a reply. Weeks ago, he received one.
"They denied my claim," Park said. "They just said no."
In their decision, PSE wrote they "respectfully denied" the claim because Joonsung received a private settlement from his insurance company, which covered his food inventory.
"I couldn't believe they could read my emails and still deny the claim," Park said. He says he wrote PSE again to explain why his insurance settlement does not cover the damage to the actual structure, which he hoped to re-open in Greenwood.
"I want to get back to my normal life again," he said. "A lot of businesses are still gone because of the damage."
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