Washington Gas Defends 16th Street Leak Response After Criticism

by Andrew Ramonas February 5, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Washington Gas truck (Photo via Flickr/DiamondBack Truck Covers)A Washington Gas crew responded quickly to a natural gas leak near Meridian Hill Park during last month’s blizzard and kept the area safe, a company spokesman said today in response to a community leader’s highly critical account of the utility’s work.

Commissioner JonMarc Buffa of the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission on Wednesday blasted Washington Gas for a lack of public notification about the Jan. 24 leak near 16th and Belmont streets NW and for what he considered a slow response by the company to resolve the problem. Locals “smoking on 16th Street could have blown themselves up,” he said then.

Jim Monroe, a Washington Gas spokesman, told Borderstan in an email that his company took the leak seriously and worked hard to fix it quickly and safely.

“Washington Gas responded quickly to this incident, one that occurred during an unprecedented winter storm, and took immediate action to ensure the safety of the area,” Monroe said. “Washington Gas personnel stayed on site to ensure safety until the pipeline repair was completed.”

He added:

  • Washington Gas received a call reporting a gas odor on Sunday, January 24 at 2:07 PM and was on the scene at 2:46 PM, well within our standards for response.

  • Our technician confirmed the odor at the security booth and immediately took steps to make the area safe. He then contacted Washington Gas dispatch to have an underground crew dispatched.

  • The crew was on site at 3:30 PM.  The crew’s ability to fully evaluate the leak was impeded by heavy snow and cars parked on the street.  These cars had to be removed from the area in order to access the underground system. The crew then excavated in front of the gate house and took additional measures to ensure safety until the leak could be repaired.

  • Washington Gas personnel remained on site throughout this incident. On January 25, the crew isolated the source of the leak near 16th and Belmont Street NW.  Because other utility work in progress impeded our ability to immediately and permanently repair the leak, the crew implemented a temporary repair.

  • On January 26, Washington Gas permanently repaired the leak.

  • From arrival on Sunday through permanent repair on Tuesday, Washington Gas remained on site and monitored the situation to ensure the safety of the gate house and surrounding area.

In a phone call with Borderstan today, Buffa said Washington Gas was first notified about the leak earlier than 2:07 p.m. The ANC commissioner also continued to express concern that he didn’t see the utility’s workers put up signage to alert residents to the problem.

“This [leak] of gas was massive,” he said.

Photo via Flickr/DiamondBack Truck Covers


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