NEWS

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October 10, 2006

Hutch Commons closes after gas leak

A gas leak outside of the Reynolds Club Saturday morning prompted University officials to close Hutchinson Commons while utility workers capped the gas line.

Peoples Energy, the Chicago gas utility company, was installing a gas line underneath 57th Street near the Quadrangle Club when the leak occurred.

“When the line struck an object, and then suffered some damage, that’s how we ended up with the gas leak,” said Bob Tiberg, director of operations and maintenance for Facilities Services. Tiberg did not know exactly what time the gas line broke—only that the leak was capped off by 10 a.m.

Officials from Chicago electric company ComEd alerted the Peoples Energy utility workers about the gas leak. The Chicago Fire Department and U of C Police Department arrived on the scene, Tiberg said.

Hutchinson Commons closed temporarily because the cafeteria uses gas to power the food stations. No students were evacuated, said Abby Zanarini, assistant to the vice president and director of client services for Facilities Services.

The gas line installation is part of a larger, $348,000 project to install a natural gas–propelled generator that will serve the Reynolds Club, Mandel Hall, and Hutchinson Commons as a back-up power source in an emergency.

The project has taken about four weeks and is in its final stages, Tiberg said. He did not anticipate that Saturday’s line break would prolong the project.