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Trouble averted with local gas leak

January 7, 2011

BREMEN — In a not-so-uncommon occurrence, a local digging project turned hazardous last week.
Last Monday, B & W Specialized Drilling of Indianapolis was performing a directional bore for Bremen Castings, for fiber optic line between buildings. A gas line was not located in the drilling location, and the crew hit one, causing a significant leak.
“Everything was marked potentially, but they missed a line that went to one of the businesses off of Waters St.,” Town of Bremen Director of Operations Rich Martin said. “That caused the leak and the shutdown of the line until they could get it pinpointed and repaired.”
After the situation was recognized, a quick emergency call preceded a local alert message released at 1:03 p.m. by the Bremen Police Department. Martin said he believed the line was fully repaired around 11 hours later.
Steps were taken quickly to ensure there wouldn’t be a catastrophic result.
“The danger varies from situation to situation,” Martin said. “The real fear is wind direction and where it’s going to settle. If it gets in a building and hits an ignition source, you can have an explosion and fire.
“That was the potential danger with this one. We evacuated some businesses and shut down some electric power in the area until it was shut off.”
Such leaks are frequent occurrences.
“Unfortunately it happens all too often because of all the buried utilities these days,” Martin said. “It probably happens once a month, maybe twice a month during the summer with all of the activity digging.”
Residents and businesses are asked to call 811 before virtually all digging so that utility lines can be identified. That protocol was followed at Bremen Castings, but the system proved not to be infallible.
“They did everything properly,” Martin said. “It was just one of those that got missed.”
If a leak occurs, people within the affected area are immediately notified. Because NIPSCO gas company puts a recognizable scented element in its gas, you can detect it easily.
Martin said there was no disputing the effectiveness and preparedness of Bremen’s responding police, fire and emergency personnel.
“They are spot-on, I tell you,” he said. “If you need anything in Bremen and call 911 or dispatch, they are there in a minute. They are a nice asset for this community.”

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