June 4, 2014

PSU construction accident causes gas leak

PLATTSBURGH — A gas leak at SUNY Plattsburgh that prompted evacuations and shut down a stretch of Rugar Street on Tuesday morning was caused by construction activity near Clinton Dining Hall.

A 1-inch service line of about 2 feet long was damaged, Director of Public Relations and Publications Michelle Ouellette said.

“They turned off the gas relatively quickly,” she said.

A construction crew working on the renovation of Mason Hall, a residence dormitory, hit the line but discovered the leak immediately, Ouellette said.

Rugar Street was shut down between Broad Street and George Angell Drive, and the Saranac River Trail, from Memorial Hall to its western end, was also closed.

Emergency responders pulled fire alarms in numerous residence halls and other buildings to alert those inside that they needed to leave, she said.

And, “with an abundance of caution,” Ouellette said, it was decided that the children at SUNY Plattsburgh Child Care Center in Sibley Hall would be taken to nearby Plattsburgh High School to wait out the repairs.

They had just started off when the “all clear” came through, she said, but continued on anyhow since the kids were all set to go on the walk.

“Everything is safe and back to normal,” she said midmorning.

Before allowing re-entry to the buildings in the vicinity, air-quality was checked, Ouellette said.

They included these residence halls: Mason, Sibley, Wilson, Hood, Moffitt, Banks, Kent, Whiteface and Adirondack. And Clinton Dining Hall, Sibley Hall and the college’s Maintenance and Operations building were evacuated then tested, too.

At about 8:45 a.m., the college sent a mass email telling recipients about the emergency situation.

The “all clear” was announced at 9:36 a.m.

University Police took the lead on the crisis, with Plattsburgh City Fire Department and Police Department assisting.

Email Suzanne Moore: smoore@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @editorSuzanne

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