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Drilling error leads to Norwich gas pipe rupture, home evacuations

Jul 23, 2023

A drilling error led to the rupture of a pressurized natural gas line in Norwich on Tuesday, prompting the temporary evacuation of residents from nearby homes, fire officials said.

Contractors drilling stabilization holes for the ongoing Sherman Street bridge project at approximately 9:43 a.m. punched through a gas supply line feeding the Asylum Street area, Norwich Fire Department Battalion Chief Marc Benjamin said in a press release.

On-site crews began evacuating the area and Norwich fire officials evaluated the vapor plume and created an isolation area. East Great Plain Fire Volunteer Fire Department members assisted with the evacuation and metered possibly affected areas on New London Turnpike, Benjamin said.

Norwich Public Utilities crews were able to significantly control the leak by installing pipe valves and inflatable bags on both sides of the broken pipe. Benjamin said the leak was "significantly" slowed after an hour and completely stopped in less than two hours.

There were no injuries reported.

Firefighters and members of the city's public works division re-metered isolation areas and evacuated properties to confirm no gas migration had occurred. Residents were allowed back in their homes and the scene was turned back over to the contractor and city workers to complete permanent repairs, Benjamin said.

Asylum Street is expected to remain closed in the break area for an extended period of time.

John Penney can be reached [email protected] or at (860) 857-6965