Construction causes gas leak, evacuation
Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 19:05
Students, classified-staff, faculty and administrators crowded the intersection where Mills Drive meets Contra Costa College after being told to evacuate the campus after a gas line was ruptured, resulting a leak.
The leak occurred between 9:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. when Columbia Electrical Incorporated (CEI), a sub-contracted company, hit a gas line while operating a “Ditch Witch” Mach 1 drilling machine, designed to bore holes through the ground with precision.
The leakage of natural gas, which occurred in the lawn by Lot 11 opposite to the handicapped parking stalls, caused classes to be suspended from about 10:15 a.m. until noon.
The hole CEI dug was 5’9” deep.
Contra Costa Electric, the company hired by Contra Costa College to complete the telecommunication project, has already began moving the college’s telecommunication servers from the Humanities Building to the Library and Learning Resource Center.
“(CEI) was drilling in order to run new fiber optics underground,” Building and Grounds Manager Bruce King said. “(To repair the line) they have to dig up the pipe, cut out the damaged area and replace it.”
PG&E arrived roughly 20 minutes after the campus evacuation to excavate, find its gas line and determine what repairs needed to be made.
Upon arrival, PG&E closed the gas line associated with the problem and classes resumed shortly after tests were performed to assure the shut-off was successful.
“Hopefully within the next half hour, they’ll know what the problem is,” CCC Capital Projects Manager Burl Toler said at about 12:50 p.m. while watching PG&E dig through the ground.
22-year-old CCC student Elena Sanchez said she was in the math lab located in AA-210 when the leak occurred.
“(At around 10:10 a.m.), a police aide came into the math lab and told us we have to evacuate,” she said standing on Mills Drive. “I’ve been waiting here for more than half an hour.”
Classes scheduled between the time of the leak and noon were canceled.