Damaged gas main shuts down SE 82nd Avenue

See the crews at work, trying to close off a ruptured outer East Portland natural gas main line, after it was damaged by contractors …

Gas, escaping from a damaged main line, in the Lents neighborhood, closes SE 82nd Avenue of Roses to all traffic.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When a NW Natural gas main line was damaged – at the northwest corner of SE 82nd Avenue of Roses and Lambert Street, on the rainy morning of January 23 – the highway remained closed for hours.  Portland Fire & Rescue and gas company crews stood by until the rupture was repaired.

82nd Avenue, actually Oregon State Highway 216, was completely shut down to all traffic and pedestrians during this incident from SE Crystal Springs Boulevard north to Flavel Street.

From as far as two blocks away, one could hear natural gas whistling and detect the foul smell of odorant “mercaptan”, which is placed into natural gas to aid detection of leaks. Its stink is reminiscent of rotten eggs, or sulfur.

All “suited up”, firefighters and a NW Natural worker approach the area where the gas main is damaged.

“We received a call from a contractor around 9:30 a.m. letting us know that they’d damaged a pipeline,” explained NW Natural Public Information Officer Stefanie Week.

“At this point, what we know is that a one-inch gas main was damaged,” Week told East Portland News. “NW Natural crews responded, and had the gas leak controlled by about 12:30 p.m.”

A firefighter carefully works in the hole where a damaged main line spews gas.

Approximately 80 customers were affected while crews worked to repair the line and begin restoring service, Week told us.

Asked why it seems that so many gas lines are cut these days, Week responded, “Third-party dig-ins [excavation near a gas line] are the most common cause of natural gas pipeline damage.

“In our service territory, there are about 700 dig-ins that occur each year; and that’s why it’s so important for homeowners and their contractors to call ‘811’ to have underground gas lines and other utility lines located, before they dig,” Week pointed out.

Throughout the morning, crews work to repair the gas main breach and restore service.

By early afternoon, SE 82nd Avenue of Roses was again open to traffic.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

 

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