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MOUNT VERNON — City Engineer Brian Ball apologized this morning for the “insanity” of Saturday’s gas line break in the Parrott and South Main streets construction zone that resulted in the evacuation of about 25 homes and Peppy’s Pull Thru.
Ball explained the crew working Saturday were removing a water line. During the extraction of the water line, the gas line was hit, causing the break.
“We think the gas line was in the wrong spot,” Ball said as he explained gas lines are suppose to be positioned 5 feet away from water lines.
According to Ball, Columbia Gas has yet to provide the city “as-built drawings” to show the exact locations of the new plastic gas lines installed in the initial work for the project. To be better informed, an indepenent survey crew is excepted to arrive this morning to finish mapping out the location of the gas lines. The city started the process but was unable to complete the effort because of rain and other projects in the city.
Once the exact locations are determined, the city will be able to compare that data with initial designs submitted by Columbia Gas to see if lines were installed as the project required.
Mount Vernon firefighters went door to door Saturday advising residents they were in an evacuation area. At the time, residents were told it could take four or five hours before they could return home.
According to Fire Chief Chad Christopher, the initial call of a leak came in at 12:04 p.m. A dispatcher registered a call to Columbia Gas at 12:13 p.m. After no response from Columbia Gas on the scene, Lt. Todd Davis contacted dispatch for an estimated arrival time. Columbia Gas, however, advised they had no record of the 12:13 request for assistance.
“They said they never recevied the call and at 12:49 we made the call to start the process,” Christopher told the News.
Just over 30 minutes later, a representative from Columbia Gas arrived on the scene to confirm the gas line break and called for additional manpower. Another hour later, Christopher said, workers and equipment arrived on the scene.
With the exception of addresses 1 to 9 Delano Street, residents were notified through WENS they could return home around 7 p.m., Saturday. The Delano Street residents closest to the break were permitted to return home at 10 p.m.
Questions sent to Columbia Gas were not answered as of press time.