21 May News Article : Sydney CBD in lockdown after excavator his gas main 8/7/2018
Sydney CBD in lockdown after gas leak in Martin Place forces evacuation
The NSW State Government has confirmed workers for its metro rail project caused the gas leak in Martin Place on Friday night that led to the evacuation and lockdown of part of Sydney’s CBD on Saturday.
Emergency services were working to contain the leak late on Saturday night, and trains were skipping the busy Martin Place station due to the gas.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance on Saturday apologised to the people of Sydney.
“It’s a very serious incident,” Mr Constance said.
“An excavator has hit a high pressure gas main in the heart of Martin Place.
“For this reason there is still ongoing work which will continue throughout the day to cap this gas main.”
Authorities were called to Martin Place at 10:30pm on Friday when the gas main was hit.
NSW Fire Service superintendent Paul Johnstone said the area was evacuated because of “dangerous gas levels”.
“What happens when the gas mixes with a certain ratio of the air it can become explosive atmosphere and any ignition can cause a fire or explosion,” he said.
“An ignition could be some traffic lights or something similar to that in a business, a refrigerator turning on after it had been off overnight, which can cause a spark.
“And if the mixture is right it could cause an explosion [so] we’re keeping local businesses closed.”
Martin Place train station was temporarily closed due to the gas leak, but services resumed late on Saturday night.
Witness Martin Ross was at the scene on Friday night and described the noise.
“It was very loud bellowing noise,” he said.
“I could could hear like big a gas whoosh. And then after that everyone was evacuated.”
Gas company Jemena was working to fix the leak, and said they had a team of 20 specialists on site.
The company said the incident was caused by an excavator striking a steel gas main.
“Jemena is seeking advice from this company to understand how the strike occurred, however our immediate focus is on safely repairing the damage and limiting any further disruptions to the community and gas supply to the area.”
In an updated statement released 3.15pm on Saturday afternoon, it said it planned to temporarily shut off gas near Martin Place about 7:00pm and then start repair work at 9:00pm.
The company anticipated the site would be “packed down” by midnight and asked residents to steer clear of the exclusion zone.
REFERENCE: ABC News. (2018). Gas leak in Martin Place caused by metro rail workers, as part of Sydney CBD in lockdown. [online] Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-07/sydney-cbd-evacuated-after-gas-leak/9953120 [Accessed 21 May 2019].