Gas Leak Leaves Unanswered Questions

Mar 31, 2017

An investigation into the cause of a major gas leak in downtown Providence Wednesday continues.

A preliminary investigation by the state Public Utilities Commission determined vibrations from a company digging around a gas pipe likely caused an unwelded section to decouple.

PUC chief compliance inspector Don Ledversis said the PUC plans to make a data request to National Grid to determine why that pipe was not welded.

“Who made that determination? And why was it not well strapped? Some couplings actually have well straps on them which add an additional layer of protection from them pulling apart,” said Leversis.

Leversis said it’s normal to ask for additional information to see if there was more than one party to blame.

“We look at both situations, maybe there were some problems on the manufactured side when it was installed and that’s what we want to get to the bottom of,” said Leversis.

If faults are found in the structure National Grid could face fines.

In the meantime, National Grid is conducting an independent investigation of what caused the leak. Company officials estimate it will take an additional couple of days. They are leaning towards construction as the root cause, but the utility company is looking at all possibilities said Patrick Stella, spokesperson for National Grid.

No one was hurt during the incident but the leak caused closures down I-95. It took officials three hours to manually shut off gas. The gas leak came a week before National Grid planned on installing remote valves for that set particular set of pipes.  The improvement would make cutting off gas supply possible with the flip of a switch.