San Francisco

Today's Upper Haight Gas Leak Due To Shoring Wall Collapse [Updated]

Construction crews working on the Haight Street infrastructure project have hit a gas line for the second time this week, according to reports that we and the Department of Public Works have just received. It's unclear at the moment whether or not the street has been closed or whether residents have been asked to shelter in place.

[Update, 3:15pm: PG&E has confirmed the issue today. Spokesperson Donald Cutler told us that the shoring of a support wall fell on the gas line, causing the leak.

He also clarified that the issue on Tuesday was due to an excavator operating too close to the line – previous reports indicated it was a jackhammer, as we noted further down in the article. PG&E currently has employees on Haight, letting nearby customers know what has been going on.

Cutler said that while the investigation into Tuesday's issue hasn’t been completed, "we can say that safe digging practices were not being used in all these situations."

The exact location of the leak appears to be 1419 Haight, said Booksmith owner Christin Evans, who is also a board member of the Haight Ashbury Merchants Association. A DPW spokesperson told us they are still working to confirm what's going on. 

For those keeping track, this appears to mark the fifth rupture on the block this year, and the sixth overall in the Upper Haight area since the infrastructure project began back in April.

This week's problems come after the project was halted late last month to address the gas-leak issues. Work resumed on Sept. 28th, with DPW public affairs officer Alex Murillo telling merchants that Ghilotti Bros., the contractor tasked with the construction, had taken measures to avoid future issues. Murillo said Ghilotti had obtained equipment to help identify the location and depth of underground utilities, and implemented a strict step-by-step emergency protocol.

PG&E spokesman Nick Smith told NBC that Tuesday's incident was caused by "[a] construction crew working in the area [that] had the gas lines marked, but was using a jackhammer instead of hand tools and hit the line. If they had used hand tools, the rupture would have been easier to avoid." It's unclear whether hand tools were being used when this latest rupture occurred.

Our outline of the infrastructure project plan from April.

Evans tells us that the ongoing gas leaks are scaring off business for local shop owners. 

"We're trying to get consensus from the merchants on whether they want the work to continue or come to a halt again," she said. "There's a clear need to balance safety along with getting the work done. We're encouraging merchants to file claims with the city because of lost business due to construction and the gas leaks."

We've reached out to DPW and PG&E for further comment, and will update this post when we hear more.


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