Contractor didn't wait to find gas line location, caused leak, SaskEnergy says

A gas line rupture that sent natural gas spewing into the air for 13 hours could have been avoided if a contractor had only waited to find out where the lines were located, SaskEnergy said.

Natural gas leaked for 13 hours after contractor drilled into line

The site of the gas leak was cordoned off by the Saskatoon Fire Department while repairs were underway. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

A gas line rupture that sent natural gas spewing into the air for 13 hours could have been avoided if a contractor had only waited to find out where the lines were located, SaskEnergy said.

On Monday morning, a 25-centimetre-wide line in Saskatoon was hit by a contractor drilling into the ground just west of Idylwyld Drive on 30th Street.

According to SaskEnergy spokesman Dave Burdeniuk, the contractor had requested a "line locate" to show where the gas lines were, but didn't wait for a crew to spray-paint the locations.

"We would have sent somebody over," Burdeniuk said.

Big fix

Fixing the rupture turned out to be a major operation.

Temperatures were below –20 C and the ground was frozen, making the repair work a difficult task, Burdeniuk said.

Crews had to use steam to soften the ground to get to the ruptured line, which had a drill bit stuck in it.

"We had people work throughout the night," Burdeniuk said. "It's very cold work, but it's also very careful work because we're monitoring all the businesses, particularly along Idylwyld, to make sure that they didn't lose gas service."

Homes evacuated

A number of homes had to be evacuated when the line was ruptured.

Students were also kept inside their classrooms at Caswell School as a precaution.

It was past 11 p.m. CST when the leak was finally stopped.

SaskEnergy will bill the contractor for the repairs, the cost of the gas and other expenses, Burdeniuk said.

Everyone has now been allowed back into their homes.

Burdeniuk said repairs to the damaged gas line wrapped up Tuesday morning.

Four homes temporarily lost their gas. Lines were extended from neighbours to keep the furnaces going in those homes, he said.