Gas line damage repaired quickly after two ruptures

Jennifer Stultz

A gas line was scratched open by equipment operated by an APAC Shears employee who was trenching in a 12-inch water line north of Pratt along U.S. Highway 281 on Monday, not once, but twice near the Pratt Regional Airport.

"We've had workers installing that waterline going from the north city limits to the airport," said City Inspector Brad Blankenship. "They came in contact with a 2-inch low pressure natural gas line."

The gas line was scratched by the bucket operator just before 10 a.m. and it ruptured, necessitating and emergency response that included Pratt Emergency Management, Pratt EMTs and fire rescue, Pratt County Sheriff's Department, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Gas Service and Pratt Township 12 Fire Department.

KDOT closed U.S. Highway 281 for just over an hour while gas service crews worked to get the situation under control.

"We were able to use a squeeze tool to pinch the line shut on the airport side," said Dawn Triplet, Manager of Public Relations for Kansas Gas Service. "Crews remained on the site for about two hours and three residences on the east side of the highway had their gas shutoff temporarily."

After the first rupture was fixed, and before Kansas Gas Service had even left the scene, another similar incident occurred, when the waterline digger again came in contact with another section of the gas line.

An official on the scene said that the gas line was marked, but had been done so in a 7-foot area. The line had shifted in the sandy soil, causing problems with the exact location for the waterline installation crew from APAC Shears.

The same procedure and tools were used to make quicker work of the second fix needed in the area and traffic was allowed to proceed on the highway by shortly after the noon hour. Only one house North of the situation continued to have gas service shut off for the duration of the second break fix.