Drilling mishap disrupts Holgate traffic
The pungent smell of the odorant "mercaptan" – that's what gives natural gas its "rotten egg" smell – was thick, in the smoke-filled afternoon air of Tuesday, August 14, at 4 p.m., along S.E. Holgate Boulevard in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.
Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Battalion Chief, whewn asked why all the fire engines had responded, pointed to a Ditch Witch JT30 All Terrain Directional Drill rig located about a half block east of 74th Avenue, on the north sidewalk of Holgate Boulevard. It was a public utility under-street operation in which the drill punctured a gas line.
PF&R Woodstock Station 25's Engine Company was on hand with water supply lines hooked up and ready to go, and four additional firefighting companies were nearby, ready for service.
Neighbors emerging from their homes, having smelled natural gas, were told to turn around and go back inside again, and shelter in place.
Gas line "locating" had been done before the project began, said NW Natural Public Information Officer Daphne Mathew; but despite that, "A half-inch polyethylene pipe service, affecting one customer, was ruptured."
S.E. Holgate Boulevard was closed from 72nd to 75th Avenues, pushing the evening rush hour traffic off into side streets, while NW Natural Gas crews made the area safe again, and completed repairs.