Traffic jams, delays and the all-clear – gas leak with risk of explosion

Because an excavator hit a gas line in a moat during clean-up work, there was a large-scale operation by the police and fire brigade in Hamburg on Saturday. Due to the bubbling leak, not only the Autobahn 25 in the Neuallermöhe area, but also the train route in the region were closed for several hours, as police and railway spokesmen said on Saturday.

In addition, residents were asked by an official warning from the fire brigade to leave their houses as a precaution or to keep windows and doors closed. The gas cloud had spread far and the smell of gas was perceptible in many places.

Luckily, the large gas line remained intact

The excavator, which was actually supposed to clear the moat of branches and tree roots, suddenly ripped out the 30-centimetre-thick gas pipe running across the moat on Saturday afternoon. The larger gas pipeline right next to it remained unharmed.

If that had also been hit, according to a police spokesman, the operation could have lasted up to ten hours. But as it was – and because the employees of the energy supplier Gasnetz Hamburg were able to quickly close the line to the leak – the operation was over after a good three hours.

In the meantime, the trains between Berlin and Hamburg were diverted and passengers had to plan for delays of around 30 minutes and drivers also needed patience on the A25 motorway.

Tschentscher: “The emergency services did a good job”

The fire brigade and police were deployed with many rescue workers. According to their own statements, the police alone had sent around 150 officers to Neuallermöhe. The emergency services initially assumed there was an acute risk of explosion and had set up a restricted area in a radius of 1,000 meters around the gas leak.

In the worst case, around 7,500 people would have had to be accommodated, a police spokesman said. The nearest houses were a few hundred yards from the gas leak.

Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) praised the work in Neuallermöhe on Twitter on Saturday. «Good job by the emergency services and by Gasnetz Hamburg. Thank you for the quick intervention and good luck with the repair of the line!”, Wrote the politician in a tweet.

Line will be repaired at the beginning of the week

According to the energy supplier Gasnetz Hamburg, damage of this type is rather rare, especially in rural areas without residential buildings. In the inner city, on the other hand, this is more often the case, a company spokesman said on Saturday of the German Press Agency. There are years with three-digit case numbers.

“That can be avoided if the construction companies look into the geodata information system beforehand”. Gas and water pipes, among other things, are marked on this publicly accessible map. Natural gas is actually odorless, but for safety reasons, an odorant is added to it so that it can be detected in the event of a leak.

Despite the gas leak, there have been no service disruptions to the residential area as it is being serviced from an underground line, the spokesman said. The torn-off line is now expected to be repaired at the beginning of the week. Small sheet piles are then built into the trench to repair the damage. “As long as the gas escape is stopped, the leak no longer poses any danger.” (dpa/hoe)

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