As was widely reported yesterday, a Union Square gas leak prompted evacuations, street closures, and service interruptions for PG&E customers. But now as officials begin to try to figure out the reason for the leak, the two agencies involved say the other was at fault.
The fire department was notified at about 2 p.m. Wednesday that a construction crew working at the intersection of Post and Mason streets had hit a 10-inch gas main, fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.
One office building at the intersection — 490 Post St.–was evacuated, PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said. According to the Ex , an Academy of Art Building and SF Flex Academy High School were also evacuated. Occupants in other buildings on the area such as J.W. Marriott and Donatello hotels were advised to shelter in place, Molica said, even as, reports the Chron, gas from the ruptured line “appeared to be shooting about 25 feet in the air.”
A PG&E crew was on the scene within minutes to begin making repairs and gas service was shut off to about 70 customers by 3:14 p.m., as it took the PG&E’s crews 59 minutes to shut off the gas manually, the Chron reports.
Crews completed repairs to the gas main by 5:15 p.m. and began relighting pilot lights for impacted customers at 6:30 p.m.
So how did this cement-cutting contractor end up chopping this line? Who’s to blame? That’s where things get murkier.
As ABC7 reports, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission says PG&E is at fault, as the agency didn’t mark the gas line as it was expected to.
But according to the Ex, PG&E says it’s not their fault, as the gas line that got cut wasn’t “marked for the construction work because crews were not supposed to start digging until Thursday.”
PG&E’s Molica tells ABC7 that J. Flores Construction, the contractor hired by the PUC — wasn’t supposed to excavate until today. “The importance is that if there’s no markings there, the work is not supposed to be done,” he said.
Says PUC spokesman Tyrone Jue, “The contractor is saying that they weren’t following lines. PG&E is saying that they hadn’t gotten out here yet. That’s all going to be part of the investigation as we wrap this up.”