A breach of a pipe during an upgrade to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline led to an evacuation along Westcolang Road, Lackawaxen Township, Wednesday evening, October 4.

LACKAWAXEN TWP. - A breach of a pipe during an upgrade to the Tennessee Gas Pipeline led to an evacuation along Westcolang Road, Lackawaxen Township, Wednesday evening, October 4.

The breach occurred to a 24 pipe alongside the new pipe being laid parallel to it, in the vicinity of 570 Westcolang Road. Emergency services were dispatched at 5:06 p.m.

Michael Mancino, chairman of the Lackawaxen Township Board of Supervisors, stated that all of the fire departments and ambulance service in their township responded, as well as Pike County Emergency Management.
He related that the rushing escape of gas sounded like a “freight train.”

Mancino was not in the area that evening, but supervisor Jeffrey Shook was on scene during the incident.
Central Volunteer Fire Department (Co. 27) is also located on Westcolang Road. The department posted information on their Facebook page the next day, in an effort to separate facts from rumors. Forest Fire Dept. (Co. 81) was also dispatched at the same time.

Pike County Communications Center reported that the pipeline crew was digging and struck an in-service, 24" main gas line. Once on scene and confirming the leak that was approximately 50-100 yards away from Westcolang Road, the road was immediately shut down from public use. The leak was very powerful and loud sending an extreme amount of natural gas into the air, Co. 27 reported.

At that time Pike Emergency Management Agency (EMA) along with 27-2 began coordinating an evacuation plan based on the weather conditions that was to be a half mile radius around the punctured pipe. This was to ensure the safety of the public if there was ever an ignition of the gases. Route 590 between the water mill and Urban Road was completely shut down to all traffic to prevent entry afterwards.

While evacuation was being completed, Tennessee Gas company was shutting the free flowing gas pipeline down which took a while due to the amount of residual volume that had to escape before becoming safe.

The power was shutoff because the gases could damage the power lines above the puncture site and also to eliminate all ignition sources in the area.

After the leak was stopped, the public was released back to their homes at approximately 8:10 p.m.
“We would like to commend the nearby residents for being cooperative and understanding and also a huge thank you to our mutual aid departments from the surrounding area along with the Pennsylvania State Police,” Co. 27 stated in their post. “Job well done.”

Dave Conover, Vice President, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs for Kinder Morgan- which owns Tennessee Gas Pipeline, stated that after realizing that a construction crew struck the pipeline, TGP quickly identified and isolated the impacted pipeline segment, dispatched personnel to the site, and notified regulatory agencies. 

Repairs are underway.

Fire Departments that were summoned include Central, Lackawaxen, Forest and Greeley; Hawley, Welcome Lake and White Mills. Westcolang Road was closed during the incident.

A follow-up story is planned, with comments from the public, as well as information about how to receive notification from the county in the event of an emergency. Anyone wishing tho comment on the incident may contact the editor at news@neagle.com or 570-226-4547.