Chesterton Tribune



Gas and water mains rupture at same time on South 15th Street

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Two homes were evacuated Tuesday afternoon and several yards flooded following the one-two punch of a combined natural-gas main/water main break on South 15th Street.

It wasn’t clear at the time how the two mains managed to fail simultaneously. What is clear is that for some two and a half hours water was gushing from the ground like a geyser, and for some four hours gas was flowing freely, the Chesterton Fire Department said.

Lt. Steve Himan told the Chesterton Tribune today that the CFD responded to the scene at 12:58 p.m. The exact location: on the east side of South 15th Street just north of Portage Ave. The position of the two lines: running parallel to one an other, about one foot apart and roughly three feet below ground, the ductile water main a little deeper than the plastic gas main.

Himan said that the water main looked to have a “rip” in it, approximately 1 1/2’ x 1 1/2’ in size, while the gas main had a latitudinal gash in it some three inches in length.

“Nobody knows how or why,” Himan said. “Nobody was digging in the area that we know of. NIPSCO and Indiana American Water were looking at it and the guys were like ‘We don’t know how that could happen.”

The gas leak prompted the CFD to evacuate two homes near the scene, Himan noted. And while there’s no telling the total gallonage of water released, a lot of it ended up both in front and rear yards before draining into a stormsewer inlet.

The CFD cleared the scene around 5:30 p.m. but NIPSCO and Indiana American Water remained there working on their respective lines until late Tuesday.

Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg called the water main rupture “pretty unusual,” although he did add that water mains don’t just break in the winter. “We had four of them break in town this past summer,” he said.

Schnadenberg confessed to being as puzzled as the firefighters. “We really don’t have an answer,” he said. “We’re as stumped as anyone else as to how this might have happened.”

Schnadenberg did say that the water played havoc with the newly paved South 15th Street, undermining a 10 foot section of it to a depth of three feet.

As of deadline, Indiana American Water had not returned an e-mail from the Tribune but NIPSCO spokesperson Megan Henning said that a crew on the scene concluded that the pressure from the water main caused the rupture in the gas main. A NIPSCO crew was on site by 2 p.m. and took readings to ensure the safety of residents, then shut off the gas to the line. After the water was cleared from the hole by vacuum truck, the rupture was repaired, with a NIPSCO crew on scene until midnight.

“NIPSCO thanks customers for their patience,” Henning said.



Posted 10/16/2019








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