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Shifted gas mains blamed in gas leak

GREENFIELD — A gas leak that closed part of Federal Street Tuesday night is being blamed on aging cast-iron gas mains shifted around by ground frost.

“A 4-inch diameter cast-iron gas main cracked, and it was likely frost- or weather-related,” said Christopher Farrell, spokesman for Berkshire Gas Co.

Though the gas leak was underground and away from any buildings, firefighters evacuated nearby Cumberland Farms, Dominos Pizza, and Aubuchon Hardware as a precaution, as they went door-to-door searching for the leak with gas company workers.

The leak was reported at about 5:30 p.m., and by 8, the leak had been located. Berkshire Gas workers set to work replacing a section of the pipe, and Farrell said they finished around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

“It was a pretty routine repair,” said Farrell.

The style of gas main under Federal Street is an aging part of the system, and cast iron is being replaced with plastic or coated steel lines.

“We have a system of replacement for our mains, depending on their age,” said Farrell. “We typically replace sections every year; it’s a constant process.”

As some crews work to replace lines, others are “constantly doing surveys with ‘sniffer trucks,’” said Farrell. Those sniffer trucks can’t catch everything, and Farrell advises people to report any suspected gas leak.

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