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Residents Back in Homes, City Back in Business After Gas Line Rupture

Workers excavating for water-line project broke a gas line at East K and East Second streets. After being evacuated for over three hours City Hall and the police station have reopened.

Update: 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, October 4

The accident appears to be the result of human error.  The company was excavating a trench for a water line.  The location of the gas line was clearly marked.  “They had several options for excavating around the pipeline,” said Charlie Knox, director of Community Planning and Public Works for the City of Benicia.  “They were using a very laborious method and thought they had a little more room, but they didn’t”

Update: 4 p.m.

All the streets have been reopened in downtown Benicia.  Crews from PG&E have completely isolated the broken section of high pressure natural gas line that was ruptured by a construction crew.  

The city manager's office has reopened for business but the finance department, where residents can pay their water bills, is closed for the rest of Monday and will reopen Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m.  The library is scheduled to reopen at 4 p.m.

PG&E spokesman Jason King says the damaged section of pipe will be replaced by 8 p.m.  While residents felt some disruption in their routine, King said there was no disruptoin to service for any PG&E customers.

Update: 2:45 p.m.

East L Street is being reopened.  Anyone who has a car parked in the Benicia Public Library parking lot, the US Post Office parking lot or in front of City Hall can get to thier cars.  The buildings are still closed until gas levels can be checked inside.

Update: 2:35 p.m.

The Benicia Unified School District decided to evacuate Liberty High School as a precaution even though they were not directed to do so by public safety personnel.

It sounds as though PG&E crews have gotten the leak isolated and have been able to shut off the supply of gas.  Fire officials and PG&E are using instruments to check the gas level in the air.  Shortly after the accident happened officials said the gas level was at seven percent and five percent is considered lethal.

Update: 2:15 p.m.

PG&E crews are estimating they will have the gas leak isolated and the gas shut off by 3:30 p.m., according to Benicia Fire Marshal Ray Iverson.

Update 1:45 P.M.

According to Lt. Mike Daley of the Benicia Police Department, even though all available patrol officers were helping with evacuation and traffic control it didn't mean calls weren't being answered.  "If there was another emergency we have people who can respond," said Daley.  "We have detectives who can answer calls and we can get assistance from the Solano County Sheriffs Department and the California Highway Patrol if we need it."

"Available personnel from Benica Fire Department and Benicia Police Department have been able to to handle the situation so far," said Daley.

Update 1:30 P.M.

PG&E crews arrived on site and estimated it will take four hours to repair the broken four inch high pressure gas line.

Water Line Workers Break Gas Line

Workers excavating a trench for a water line project accidentally broke a high pressure gas distribution line.  The city has evacuated businesses and residences in the 100 and 200 blocks of East J, East K and East L Streets. 

City Hall and the Post Office have been evacuated and the Emergency Dispatch center has been moved from the police station to the fire station.

Fire Marshal Ray Iverson reported that the damaged line is a four inch plastic high pressure distribution line.  “There are two feeds so the break will have to be isolated from both sides,” said Iverson. 

Iverson also reported that there was no disruption in 911 emergency dispatch service as it was moved from the dispatch center at the police station to the Emergency Operations Center at the main fire house across from the Solano Square Shopping. “We have a plan in place and we’re executing it,” said Iverson.

Evacuated residents can gather at the Benicia Community Center.  According to Iverson, “There are people there to receive them.”

Holly Dinsdale October 05, 2011 at 06:04 AM
I live one block from where this happened. The police stated that they evacuated the 200 block of east J st (where I live). This did not happen. I was unaware that there had been a leak until a friend called me, later that evening, to see if we were Ok. I was home all day and there was no evacuation on my street. It is disturbing to hear that the levels were at seven and fatal would be considered five. If I were to walk out my front door and down half a block I can see where they were digging. The library and Liberty High were evacuated and they are further away then my home. I am glad that public buildings and a suicidal man were all attended to during this time, however I am disturbed at the lack of service where residents were concerned and the blatant overstatement of what the police did to secure all residents during this gas leak.
Bay Native October 05, 2011 at 03:56 PM
NICE n here I though they were called ghetto birds lol
JB Davis October 05, 2011 at 05:59 PM
This is the kind of thing the city needs to hear about so they know where they can improve. Also, the evacuation of Liberty High was the school district's call, not the city's. You really should notify the fire marshal about not being contacted.
Holly Dinsdale October 05, 2011 at 06:33 PM
I agree. Thank you for the information on who to contact.
"The Black Panther of Poetry" October 05, 2011 at 10:29 PM
I would like to know why didn't the loud city wide alarm that they practice for a few minutes on Wednesday@ 11a.m., sound off. Why?!!! It's like when I was a kid and we only had the A.B.C. channels. Every so often a screeching noise would interrupt your show and the announcer would say, "This is a test, this is only a test. Should this be a real situation you would here this sound and announcement and be instructed accordingly"!!! Then after the annoucement you could go back to watching Gilligans' Island or Batman. Does that system still exist?

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