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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Gas leak causes garage closure

A regulator valve on a gas line at the campus Physical Plant was stuck open early Wednesday morning, releasing high amounts of gas and prompting University Police Department officials to prohibit people in the Northside Parking Garage from starting their cars.
James Rainer, environmental safety manager for the Environmental Health and Safety Department at A&M, said the garage was shut down to prevent vehicle ignitinitions from lighting sparks that could have potentially caused an explosion.
“This valve is a safety valve to relieve pressure,” said Chris Meyer, director of environmental health and safety. “When it opened, it stuck open, so there was quite a lot of gas that was coming out.”
Lt. Vici Brackman with the UPD said the garage was shut down because of safety.
“They never got any readings of gas in the garage,” Brackman said. “We shut the garage down for precautionary reasons.”
Rainer said workers shut the valve and waited for the gas to dissipate.
“They’ve got the valve shut (now),” Rainer said.
Meyer said that because of the July 31 University Apartment explosion, A&M safety officials are more sensitive to gas leaks than at any other campus in the nation.
“(Tuesday) night was not your typical gas leak,” Meyer said. “There’s been lots of publicity that gas lines have been checked all over campus. This was not a hole in a pipe.”
Meyer said the leak was a result of the stuck Atmos Energy valve, not University equipment failure.
“So from the University standpoint, we’re not completely in control of this piece of equipment,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he did not see any need to inform people who had parked in the Northside Parking Garage, but did not retrieve their cars that night, of the leak.
“Once the valve was closed, gas dissipated quickly,” Meyer said. “There’s no risk … I had no idea who had a car parked there and who didn’t.”
Ravi Garach, an electrical engineering graduate student, was riding his bike through the area and didn’t know there was a gas leak but was warned by UPD officials to take a different route home.
“You believe the campus is a safe place,” Garach said. “It could have happened that they would not have noticed, and I would have gone (through that area). Next time when I pass through campus, I’ll keep my nose open,” Garach said.

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