Gas team’s quick response keeps trains running

When the call came in around 4pm from the Boston fire department that there was a gas-fed fire at a South Boston commuter rail yard, our New England Gas team sprang into action. While there was no immediate danger to anyone on or near the site, trains leaving the station were delayed, and until the situation was under control, service could be impacted for thousands of MBTA customers as rush hour was just beginning.

When our New England gas ops team  got to the site of the fire, they breathed a small sigh of relief. The fire was relatively small and was under control. It appeared as if gas from a minor leak had pooled under some of the gravel at the train yard and had somehow been sparked. Here’s a photo of what it looked like:

Small fire at South Boston commuter rail yard
Containing the fire would prove not to be the biggest hurdle. The location of the fire, situated on an older pipeline that ran beneath the train tracks, would pose a challenge as the team considered how to repair the leak. A protective fence was also situated right on top of the site. It would be difficult to get the proper tools and machinery out there – but with some innovative thinking and coordination our crew got to work.

The team drove the excavator out over a series of train tracks in the yard:
South Boston commuter rail yard
They then got to work coordinating how to take down the portion of fence that needed to be removed to begin the repair.
National Grid crews working at South Boston commuter rail yard
They had to lower down tools to the site from the bridge above:
South Boston commuter rail yard
Then the repair work began …
South Boston commuter rail yardSouth Boston commuter rail yard
Shoring also needed to be built for safety, and the team worked diligently together.
South Boston commuter rail yard
The quick response time from our team in containing the fire allowed MBTA service to start up again smoothly after about an hour delay, then the team worked through the night encapsulating the joint to contain the leak. It took them only 20 hours to make the repair from start to finish – an enormous task given the barriers the team faced getting the right equipment out to the challenging work site.

“Under the direction of Terry Cleary’s supervision, the crew did an excellent job and maintained employee and public safety at all times,” said New England Gas Director Dan McNamara. He also commented that had this been a routine leak repair, it may have taken up to six months to complete a job like this given the permitting and logistics that would have needed to be worked out.

Our team did an excellent job thinking quickly on their feet, collaborating with local officials and Amtrak, and making sure the leak was repaired safely. The job was completed over multiple shifts and with crews stationed at critical valves in case an emergency shutdown was necessary.

Team members who were a part of this response included:

Terry Cleary, Pat Locke, Mike Teal, Josh Levy and John Knell

Local 12003 employees – Commercial Point Yard:   Anthony Johnson, Wally Watts, Sean Kenerson, Frank Connolly, Kamel Khnaizir, Andy Smith, Chris Anderton, Charlie Robinson, Ray Rascoe, Paul Feeney, Steve Kelly, Joe Catino, Mike Keogh, Jon Hunter, Chris Jones, Brian Harvey, Sherman Bartholomew, Rich Turilli, Andrew Corrigan

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