Gas leak causes short campus scare

By Patrick Hoff

A mistake with construction equipment caused a brief gas leak at the University of Massachusetts on Thursday, during which the Student Union and W.E.B. Du Bois Library were off limits to all but emergency personnel.

Justin Surgent/ Collegian

The leak was reported around 3 p.m. when a contractor working on underground infrastructure in the middle of campus near the library caused a rupture in the gas line. Police and firefighters were quick to respond to the scene, and text and email alerts were sent to students and faculty on campus to warn them of the danger.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said that Berkshire Gas Company showed up at the scene just before 3:30 p.m. to shut off the gas and secure the area. The area remained closed until just after 3:40 p.m. in order to ensure campus safety.

During the emergency, students were directed to go around South College instead of walking past the library towards Thompson Hall, a walkway used frequently since the closure of the stairs near the library leading to the Student Union. Students were also not permitted to leave the Student Union during the emergency.

Blaguszewski said that the campus is safe and  “in good shape” now and that it was simply an accident.

“We’re updating electricity, steam and power throughout campus for existing and future buildings,” he said. “Some equipment hit the gas line.”

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]