Chesterton Tribune

 

 

CFD: Three gas line breaches this week caused by faulty locates

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By KEVIN NEVERS

One week after the Northern Indiana Public Service Company agreed to pay a $900,000 fine related to faulty utility locates, the Chesterton Fire Department is reporting three separate natural-gas line breaches caused by mislocates or failures to locate prior to excavation work.

Two lines were ruptured on Wednesday alone, Capt. Tony Coslet told the Chesterton Tribune today: one on Hickory Grove Street in the Morgan’s Corner neighborhood of Coffee Creek Center; the other on Michael Drive, in the Duneland Cove subdivision, where NIPSCO has begun work replacing underground electric lines.

A third gas line was breached on Thursday, this one in the 900 block of Sandpiper Drive, also in Duneland Cove, Coslet said. In Thursday’s incident, reported at 11:05 a.m., firefighters arrived to find the half-inch line actively leaking. “It sounded like a small jet engine,” Coslet said, and given its proximity to the four-plex--about six inches away--the CFD made the decision to evacuate the building.

Then, when advised by NIPSCO that a crew’s ETA to the scene was 25 minutes, the CFD made the further decision to crimp the line itself, using a Hurst jaws-of-life extrication tool. The CFD cleared the scene at 11:35 a.m.

All three line ruptures were the result of mislocates or non-locates by NIPSCO’s contracted locating service, Coslet said.

NIPSCO released the following statement to the Tribune this morning: “The actions we are taking, which were identified in the recent (Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission) findings, are intended to prevent these types of incidents. We need to continue making improvements and that is our focus.”

Last week NIPSCO noted that it replaced its previous locate contractor on April 1, 2017, and has entered into contracts with two other vendors.

The $900,000 fine which NIPSCO agreed to pay was part of a settlement of a complaint brought against the company by the IURC’s Pipeline Safety Division, which found that between January 2015 and March 2016, NIPSCO committed 208 violations relating to its “obligation to timely and accurately locate its underground facilities”; and 53 further violations related to inaccurate locates which “resulted in damage to NIPSCO’s natural-gas facilities because of NIPSCO’s failure to maintain accurate facility maps and records.”

During the period in question, in the summer of 2015, the CFD responded to at least two gas line breaches in Chestnut Hills, both caused by faulty locates during NIPSCO’s underground electric line replacement project in that subdivision.

Among other things, the IURC is requiring NIPSCO to provide “up-to-date safety compliance organizational data and corresponding contact information”; and to provide “ongoing reports on a series of performance metrics.”

According to a sliding fine schedule imposed by the IRUC--also part of the settlement--NIPSCO will have to pay a $5,000 fine for each of the three incidents this week and for any further ones in 2017. In 2018-19 NIPSCO will have to pay a fine of $2,500 per violation up to the first 25, and $7,000 per for all violations over 200.

 

 

Posted 12/8/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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