Philadelphia Gas Works chief executive Craig E. White on Thursday expressed "disappointment" with a stinging 334-count complaint by state regulators that alleges the utility botched its response to a fatal gas-main leak last January.

White, in a message in the utility's internal monthly newsletter, defended PGW's response to the Jan. 18 explosion in Tacony that killed PGW worker Mark Keeley and injured five employees.

On Dec. 15, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission alleged that PGW "failed to take required steps to minimize the danger of accidental ignition of gas," but the panel stopped short of saying PGW caused the blast. The PUC is seeking fines of $500,000.

White told PGW employees that the PUC's complaint "not only calls into question the quality of our maintenance and repair programs, our emergency response procedures and our training programs, but, as our answers to the complaint will show, we believe it paints an inaccurate picture of the events of Jan. 18th and that our first responders acted bravely and appropriately."

White's message provides a glimpse of the city-owned utility's forthcoming response to the PUC. Last month, the panel allowed PGW to push its response back to Feb. 6.

PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher declined to respond to White's comments Thursday because the matter is under litigation.

White said that contrary to the PUC's allegations that the 19-year-old Keeley was insufficiently trained and unsupervised at the time he died, "all PGW crew members on scene at the incident were trained to perform their jobs and each was supervised."

White also disputed the PUC's contention that a control valve had gone unrepaired for six months. "Our records show it had been inspected and found operable prior to the leak," he said.

The valve was not implicated as a cause of the leak, but the PUC's allegations that it had gone unrepaired accounted for many of the charges in the complaint.

The PUC also cited PGW for failing to test all workers who responded for alcohol and drugs. But White said PGW followed its policy to test employees "we believed were directly involved in responding to the leak." The PUC said 35 workers were untested.

"No allegations have been made, and no evidence presented, that any PGW employee involved in the incident was anything other than sober," White said.

The death of a coworker "shook us to our core," he said, but he urged PGW workers to "hold your heads high."