City sued over gas main rupture

The utility National Grid is suing the city of Amsterdam for more than $100,000 for damage to a gas
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The utility National Grid is suing the city of Amsterdam for more than $100,000 for damage to a gas line the company alleges city crews did while excavating last summer.

Officials in early July of last year knocked on the doors of about 100 homes and firefighters broke into about 10 of them to shut off gas valves after a city public works crew tore into a gas line while digging in front of 328-330 Guy Park Ave.

City workers were excavating to repair a water line, officials said at the time.

Public Works Supervisor Ray Halgas on Monday said he was unable to comment on the lawsuit since it is ongoing.

Following the incident last year, Halgas said the city had followed all its procedures and called the Dig Safely New York number to get all the underground gas, cable, water, sewer and fiber optic lines marked out.

Markings on the roadway identified various lines but the gas line was apparently not one of them, Halgas said at the time.

When the gas line was ruptured, water from the broken pipe the city was trying to fix started pouring into the gas piping.

The situation required a shutdown at each home, officials said at the time, because appliances may not work with water in the pipes but gas could continue to flow, presenting a hazard.

Following the incident, the city fire department said homes on Division and Caroline streets west to Steadwell Avenue were affected by the shutdown.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for National Grid allege the city failed to comply with provisions of general business law, public service law and other statutes. The utility estimates the cost of damage to the 1 1⁄2 -inch steel line at $107,387.68, plus interest. The company filed a notice of claim with the city on July 17, 2007, according to the lawsuit.

National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella said he was not familiar with the lawsuit but said he could not comment on ongoing litigation if he were.

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane and city Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis could not be reached for comment Monday.

According to Dig Safely New York, the nonprofit message-handling service which receives calls from those planning to excavate, there were a total of 88 incidents in which underground facilities were damaged in New York from June 1, 2007, to May 31, 2008.

Of those, 26 percent were attributed to people not calling the Dig Safely New York Number.

Careless excavation is cited in 57 percent of those cases and the remaining 17 percent of underground damage was caused by mismarkings.

Categories: Schenectady County

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