Broken gas line repaired at University of Kentucky after part of campus evacuated

jwarren@herald-leader.comJuly 28, 2014 

The William T. Young Library and several adjacent buildings on the University of Kentucky campus were evacuated for several hours Monday after a construction machine hit a gas line, causing a leak.

The broken line was repaired shortly before 5 p.m., according to Lisa Smith, a spokeswoman for Columbia Gas of Kentucky. The leaking gas was shut off earlier in the afternoon.

UK sent text alerts about 2:15 p.m. advising the campus that the "emergency condition had passed" and normal activities could resume.

"No one was hurt; that's the good news," Smith said.

The leak started about 12:30 p.m., when workers using a backhoe accidentally punctured a 2-inch plastic natural gas line that was providing service to Haggin Hall, one of the new dormitories under construction at UK, university spokesman Carl Nathe said.

Nearby buildings were evacuated, and workers closed off a 500-foot radius around the leak as a precaution, Nathe said.

Gas leaked for about 90 minutes, Smith said.

UK officials said the list of buildings that were evacuated included Central Hall I and II; Young Library; the Mines and Minerals Building; Donovan Hall, which is slated for demolition; and Haggin Hall.

The parking garage at Rose Street and Hilltop Drive also was closed and, as a precaution, people who had parked there were asked not to move their vehicles until after the all-clear was sounded.

People in the area around the Young Library reported a strong smell of natural gas.

A relatively small number of people were on campus Monday because the university is between semesters. Among those present were some teachers and prospective students taking campus tours.

Smith described the broken gas line as made of strong, rigid plasticlike material.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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