MUD to review past projects for abandoned valves

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jan 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 17:52:49-05

The Metropolitan Utilities District says it will review past projects to make sure gas valves were properly abandoned.

The decision comes after MUD revealed more information about the efforts to help firefighters at the Old Market fire by turning off the gas service.

“A valve lid was located near the entrance to M’s Pub which the technician believed to be the valve to the gas service line supplying M’s Pub. The lid to that valve was frozen and had to be pried open. Once opened, the technician turned that valve off but the contained flame area mentioned previously did not subside. Unfortunately, that lid/valve set was to an old gas service line to M’s Pub that was directionally in line with where the current service line runs. In addition, at this time, the actual lid/valve to the current gas service line was located under a parked car on the east side of 11th Street and not visible to the technician,” M.U.D. said in a statement Thursday.

RELATED LINK: Read the full statement from M.U.D. released on Thursday

During a press conference Friday morning, as fire officials discussed the results of their investigation into the Old Market fire, they deferred any questions about the gas service to M.U.D.

“We’re going to respectfully decline to answer any questions related to the gas service, how quickly it was shut off and or any particulars relating to the boring process because we simply aren’t educated to speak on those topics,” said Asst. Fire Chief Dan Olsen.

M.U.D. later issued a press addressing the abandoned gas valve:

Since issuing the January 21, 2016 statement on the 11th and Howard St. fire, M.U.D. has received additional media inquiries about the abandoned gas valve that the M.U.D. Technician initially operated.

When did M.U.D. abandon the old gas valve and was it labeled to show that it was no longer active?

The valve was abandoned in 2009 when crews replaced the gas services in the area. M.U.D.’s normal practice is to abandon the access to valves below the surface as we do the replacement process. That did not happen in this case. M.U.D. will review past projects to ensure valves were abandoned properly and then adjust procedures if necessary to ensure proper abandonments occur going forward.

If this valve had been properly abandoned would the gas have been shut off sooner?

It is unknown if the gas would have been shut off any earlier than what occurred. It would involve speculation on the timeframe to have the vehicle that was in the parking stall over the correct valve moved so the valve could be accessed; or the timeframe to shut off the gas main in 11th Street; or the timeframe for a M.U.D. Construction Crew called in to excavate the service line in order to pinch it off.