Minor gas line rupture prompts campus alert improvements

By Janea Melido | September 1, 2023 12:05pm
Gas line rupture at a construction site on North Van Houten Place and North Van Houten Ave.
Media Credit: Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

A two-inch gas line ruptured on a North Van Houten Place and North Van Houten Ave. construction site at approximately 8:34 a.m. on Friday.

Students received phone calls and text messages from Campus Safety informing them of a gas leak but no additional information was provided. 

A crew from Portland Fire Bureau responds to reports of a gas leak on the northern edge of campus. Northwest Natural later gave the all-clear that the leak was repaired and the threat was over.

by Gavin Britton / The Beacon

Director of Campus Safety Michael McNerney said the lack of information was due to a technical issue, with confusion on where they input information to send out.

Within C-Safe’s alert software, the subject line acts as the entire message that is texted to students. The text “gas leak” that students received was intended as only the subject line. Information about where was meant to be included.

NW Natural responded to the scene and the incident was recalled, considered “no danger to public,” according to the Portland Fire and Rescue (PFR) Twitter page.

Public information officer for PFR, Lieutenant Laurent Picard, reassures the UP community that this was a minor incident that “happens on occasion.”

“Construction crews will hit a gas line,” Picard said. “It’s outside, so the gas has been into the atmosphere so there’s no danger to anybody.” 

C-Safe informed students that there was no threat and to resume normal activities. 

“We missed the mark in terms of delivering effective communication for everyone's safety, but the good news is it was a relatively minor incident and it allowed us to identify some weak points in our process, and we'll be able to shore those up for next time,” McNerney said. 

Janea Melido is the News and Managing Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at melido24@up.edu