July 17, 2013 4:26 pm
Updated: July 17, 2013 4:38 pm

Questions remain after two gas leaks in HRM in one day

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HALIFAX – Many questions remain and have not yet been answered after two gas leaks in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) in one day.

A gas line was punctured in South End Halifax, Tuesday morning, near the intersection of South Park and Fenwick streets. Later in the day, there was another incident on Gaston Road in Dartmouth.

Heritage Gas contractors were working at the South End side, so the company is responsible for overseeing the leak in that area.

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The municipality hired contractors for the Gaston Road work and is overseeing the response leak.

HRM construction supervisor Bruce Colborne said he’s awaiting a report on what happened on Gaston Road.

“There is safety protocol and part of our requirements is to have our utilities located,” Colborne said. “There’s locations done in the field. There’s paint marks put in the ground. There’s a written report, which the contractor has available to him,” said Colborne.

“The report will tell us to why they hit the gas main,” he said. “Obviously, there was something that occurred that obviously shouldn’t have and that’s what we need to determine, whether it was human error or someone wasn’t following protocol.”

After he receives and reviews the report, Colborne says decisions will be made as to whether additional training is needed or whether different protocol is required when working around the gas line.

WATCH: A major area of downtown Halifax was shut down Tuesday because of a significant gas leak

Heritage Gas owns both pipelines and is conducting a formal investigation of the two incidents and filing an report with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB).

The company’s only comment to Global News is that it does not have much more to say until the investigation is complete.

The contractor in both situations, Sackville Trenching, declined to comment to Global News and referred all questions to Heritage Gas.

Hundreds of people were forced to leave their homes Tuesday as a precaution.

St. Mary’s University chemistry professor Jason Masuda said the biggest concern with natural gas is the possibility of an explosion.

“Any sort of spark or source of heat may cause the natural gas to ignite. The flammability of natural gas really depends on the concentration. If you have too little or too much, you won’t have an explosion occur,” he said.

Masuda added natural gas is not toxic and often dissipates into the atmosphere.

But, he notes, evacuating the area around a leak helps mitigate risk.

“If there were open pipes, and the natural gas somehow ended up in those pipes, then it could travel through those pipes and there would be no way for it to escape up into the atmosphere,” he explained

Work begins Firday on a new natural gas pipeline on Oxford Street between Jubilee Road and Coburg Road.

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