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Ruptured Gas Line at High School Was In Wrong Place

School Board Vice President A. Robert Necciai records don't show the gas line's actual location.

When a construction worker hit a gas line at Pine-Richland High School -- prompting an evacuation of the building -- it was a surprise in more ways than one.

The gas line was not where it was supposed to be, and neither was the water line underneath it, Pine-Richland School Board Vice President A. Robert Necciai said last night at the school board's meeting.

In fact, it's a little unusual to have one line on top of the other, he said.

That prompted questions from fellow school board directors about how the lines got that way and who put them there.

"This could have been a freak accident," Director Aafke Loney said. "Who would be accountable?"

Pine-Richland High School was evacuated for 45 minutes on Feb. 18 after the gas leak was reported.

About 1,500 students and 200 staff members left the buliding and waited in the nearby middle school until gas, police, and fire officials gave the go-ahead to return, said Communications Director Rachel Hathhorn.

Construction works are at Pine-Richland High School daily because the school is in the midst of an expansion and renovation project at its 700 Warrendale Road campus in Pine Township.

Equitable Gas Co. installed the gas lines on the property, Project Manager Cassandra Renninger of Eckles Architecture and Engineering said.

School Board Director Richard Herko asked for Equitable to be contacted to find out if the company was aware of the problem and would correct it.

Necciai said the lines are not marked correctly on project drawings, and there's "no record as to why it's there." In fact, he said, the lines are 30 to 40 feet away from where the construction drawings show them to be.

Renninger explained that a surveyor depends on documents from previous construction projects on a site to determine where utilities are located. 

The older documents show the lines to be elsewhere, she said.

In 1991 when the high school was built, someone might have put the gas and water lines in their current location to save time and money, said Necciai, but that is "very unclear now."

A contractor usually notes the change on the project's drawings, Necciai said.

crosbycat May 28, 2011 at 02:09 PM
According to www. paonecall.org, contractors are required by law to have utilities mark their own lines prior to excavating. It is not clear from this article or the follow-ups discussing cost overruns whether this was done. Per the website: All excavators must contact PA One Call at least 3 business days prior to excavation, as required by law. Pennsylvania One Call System is a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation created to protect the underground facilities before anyone begins to disturb the earth. PA One Call receives requests from excavators, contractors, plumbers, builders, designers, and the general public to find out where underground lines are located. Pennsylvania One Call notifies member underground facility owners of the intent to excavate. The member underground facility owner then marks where their lines are located.

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