Workers rupture Semco gas line

Published 6:16 am Thursday, October 28, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - The smell of gas filled the air across much of downtown Niles Wednesday.
A construction crew installing a new sewer main line along Fourth Street struck and damaged a natural gas line while digging a trench for the new sewer main.
Public Works Director Neil Coulston and assistant director Joe Ray both smelled the gas while they were on Second Street just north of Main Street.
Workers from Semco Gas and Energy Co. responded quickly, sealing the punctured line before any incident could occur.
An official from Semco said the accident was the first incident of any construction crews working downtown damaging the company's service lines.
The line was struck when the crew working on the sewer main project thought they had uncovered the sewer main which was marked on the pavement. The line they had uncovered was an old line no longer in use.
The crew was supposed to hand dig in the area near the marking to locate the line before continuing to dig with the large excavator.
The Niles City Fire Department responded quickly to the scene, but was not needed after Semco workers sealed the line.
Readings from the department's gas detector indicated most of the natural gas rose quickly in the air because the area was open and posed no threat to the downtown area.
The gas line was repaired and service to the affected building, which houses Leader Publications, was restored shortly before 5 p.m.
The new sewer main line was being installed because the old sewer main was damaged when the Front Street storm sewer was installed.
The damage caused sand to fill the sewer main, which interrupted service to the Niles Chamber of Commerce Building and Insurance Management Service, 214 N. Fourth St.
The new sewer main is being installed about 10 feet closer to the buildings, cutting off the old line, which will be unused.
A manhole will be installed where the insurance building's connection to the main sewer is located, allowing public works workers easy access to the line in the future, Ray said.