PRINCETON —The co-
The owner of a $700,000 road grinder, who was killed in a gas fire on Wednesday, said yesterday that PSE & G failed to properly mark the location of the underground gas pipeline.
The fire was filled with harmful black smoke near Princeton, forcing the evacuation of eight houses.
The New Jersey Public Utilities Commission, Princeton Engineering Department, and PSE & G are investigating this cause.
A spokesman for PSE & G said yesterday that the company had come to the site prior to the road work to mark the location of the utility line, but would conduct a review to find out what the problem was.
The gas fire burned more than six hours after the milling machine
Designed to remove the surface of asphalt and concrete
Rolling on the site of a 6 inch shallow gas pipeline, this pipe line leads to a main pipe.
Officials say it is not clear whether it really cuts into the gas line or breaks due to the tonnage of the milling machine.
Town engineer Robert Kiser says gas pipelines are usually buried 2-
3 feet under the road, but this is only a few inches away from the road.
He said the cutting depth of the milling machine is 8 inch below the surface.
The owner of the machine said he lost a brand.
The new milling machine was only used for two hours.
\"Imagine you\'re a hard-working person and you finally have enough money to buy a brand new Mercedes-
You pull the car out, behind-
The top construction company is \"over, your total number of new cars has reached\"co-
Said owner Steve Castella.
\"That\'s how it feels, but it\'s probably worse.
$700 is a lot of money.
Castela said the construction area was not properly marked as a warning to the gas pipeline.
\"I know this can be avoided if the marker has dropped,\" he said . \".
When the contractor is about to start a project, they need to call the special hotline three days in advance and provide information about the place of work.
This information is then communicated to utility companies that mark the area.
Castela said that he followed the guidelines and that if there were marks, the operator would stop the machine, cross the machine over the line, and then actually dig the area around the line.
Kiser confirmed the claim, saying that he saw the request to mark the site and that he did not see any marks at the scene of the fire on Wednesday.
He added that the line, known as the \"drip\", or the line from the gas mains, was only a few inches underground, which he said was unusual.
\"The power supply is usually 2-
3 feet lower than the surface. \"Said Kiser.
\"There is no difference between water drops or stems.
Kiser said he did not know the line was under the road.
If he did, it would be marked and his department would instruct the contractor to bypass it.
\"What we are most concerned about is the safety of residents and staff, and he said:\" We will work with PSE & G to review the details of this gas host, and any other drops and side lines, to ensure that this does not happen again. \".
Princeton does not have a map of the various natural gas pipelines and routes below the town.
\"It will be very helpful,\" Kiser said . \".
\"We have already asked, but no one has ever provided this information.
Kiser said his understanding was that it was PSE & G\'s policy not to provide this information.
Like contractors, towns depend on the marking system, he said.
\"I \'ve been in Princeton for 30 years and this system is working pretty well, this is the first time this has happened,\" he said . \".
A spokesman for PSE & G Snodgrass Kristine said that the company\'s policy is to provide the main location information for the projectby-project basis.
Typically, they provide information through road markings, but if an item is complex enough and the site sketch is submitted to the utility, they also mark the sketch with the main location.
Snodgrass says the pavement marks for this project have been put down, but she can\'t say where they are placed.
Spokesman Greg reinat said that where, when and whether the lines are marked are just some aspects that the utilities commission will review.
\"Whenever a gas line is hit or a gas explosion, we respond and review it,\" he said . \".
\"We are very strict with gas pipelines.
\"The gas service was restored to five properties around 8: 30. m.
A crane was called to the site to remove the destroyed milling machine, Castela said.
\"This is the first time I have experienced something like this and I will seek compensation for our losses,\" Castela said . \".
\"But no one is hurt. this is the most important thing.
\"The top construction company signed a contract with Princeton to rebuild the 1,600 feet-kilometer section of uain Street between Valley Road and North Harrison Street.
Castella says their contract with the town is worth about $1 million and will resume work next week.
Contact Jon Offredo, Tel: 609-989-
5680 or joffredo @ njtimes.
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