Company that hit gas line says line was not properly marked; contractor admits human error

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As cleanup continues from Wednesday’s natural gas leak and explosion in the Hilltop, a construction company says “human error” is to blame.

Columbus-based Team Fishel was using equipment to drill underground and hit a gas line, and they say in a statement Thursday they had “followed all of the Ohio Utility Protection Service requirements” and “had received the necessary clearances to perform the work in which led to us hitting an unidentified gas line.”

UtiliQuest, LLC is the company in charge of marking said gas lines. A statement they released Thursday read in part: “UtiliQuest was responsible for locating the natural gas line, and it appears that a human error occurred. We will continue to work with Columbia Gas of Ohio and first responders in this investigation.”

UtiliQuest is a contractor for Columbia Gas.

Columbia affirmed that “the maps and records provided to UtiliQuest for this project were accurate.”

Columbia Gas expected to have service restored by 6 p.m. Thursday to the customers who did not have gas after the leak.

Some residents questioned why it took more than two hours for Columbia Gas to shut off the gas after the explosion.

Daniel Schafer, a director of system operations for the gas company said they took the preferred approach of locating the gas main and using a hydraulic jack to squeeze the plastic pipe shut. Schafer said Plan B was to shut down a series of valves on smaller lines.”We had people in place on those valves to turn those valves,” Schafer said. “As we were ready to execute that plan, we got notification this had been squeezed off and gas flow had stopped.”

Schafer said fewer customers were affected by the decision to shut down the main and isolate the problem rather than shutting off valves to smaller lines.

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