OHIO - Gas Leak in Wauseon Prompts Evacuation

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Title: Gas leak in Wauseon prompts evacuation

Source: http://www.toledoblade.com/editorial/news/0c21waus.htm

March 21, 2000

WAUSEON - About two dozen homes were evacuated and traffic was rerouted in Wauseon yesterday afternoon because of a leak in a 26-inch natural gas line near the Fulton County Health Center.

The gas leak occurred along State Rt. 108 near County Road D. The state route was closed between County Road D and County Road E at the edge of Wauseon.

Panhandle Eastern Pipeline workers search for a gas leak off State Rt. 108 near Wauseon. (Blade photo) In addition, traffic on Route 108 in Napoleon was diverted to alternate routes.

Police officers went door-to-door and told residents living on Highland Drive and portions of Burr Road and Route 108 to leave their homes after the police department was notified about the leak, which occurred about noon.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes beginning at 4 p.m. The hospital was not evacuated, nor was Burr Road Middle School.

Workers have not determined what caused the leak in the Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Co.'s line, according to John Barnett, spokesman for CMS Energy Corp. Panhandle, based in Houston, is owned by CMS Energy.

It was not known whether a small hole in the line or a larger break caused the gas to escape, he said.

The leak was discovered by Greg Weber, Ron Grime, and Lindsey Huner, who are employed in Wauseon's public works department.

The employees were in the area to fix a water-main break.

They smelled an additive that is put into natural gas and walked across the highway where they detected the leak.

"Gas was blowing out of the ground," Brad Kebschull, superintendent of public works in Wauseon, said.

When Panhandle crews arrived, they immediately closed valves on both sides of the problem area, Mr. Barnett said, allowing gas to empty out of that section. Once that was accomplished, residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Crews will excavate the pipeline to determine what the problem was and perhaps what caused it, Mr. Barnett said. Crews were expected to work into the night and then return this morning.

Nearby homes were evacuated as a precautionary measure, Mr. Barnett said.

Some nearby homes were evacuated initially and then Panhandle recommended that homes within a quarter-mile distance of the site be evacuated, he said. Gas from the line was rerouted to two other Panhandle lines in the area to avoid an impact on customers, Mr. Barnett said.

The city's water-main break occurred on the west side of Route 108 yesterday morning, Mr. Kebschull said. It appears the water-main break did not cause the gas leak, Mr. Kebschull said.

The water-main break occurred because of movement in the ground. "It's just something that happens" at this time of year, Mr. Kebschull said.

City employees were not allowed to work on the water line until the all-clear was given on the gas leak. Water service was restored by 6:30 last night.

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