Tiny leak given a big response

ROB MAETZIG
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012

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Powerco has replaced a leaking gas main at a New Plymouth high-rise apartment block - even though it says it did not need to.

Last week the Taranaki Daily News reported residents of the seven-storey Richmond Estate were living in fear of fire because of gas leaking from a badly corroded above-ground pipe carrying gas from St Aubyn St to the base of their apartment block.

They claimed things had got so bad that not only could the gas be smelled at the footpath, but that it was also killing vegetation planted in a garden surrounding the pipe's entrance into the apartment building.

But lines company Powerco, which is responsible for the gas supply, said it could not detect any leak.

However, following last week's publication of the article Powerco checked again - and this time a gas leak was found.

Powerco gas operations manager Don Elers said yesterday that tests on Friday revealed a small leak that, while it did not pose any threat to public safety, prompted a decision to replace the service main.

Small leaks were often difficult to locate even with the best detection equipment, and it was not unusual to have to visit a site several times to find a small leak, he said.

"Our equipment at the apartment block recorded gas at 50 parts per million. The gas would need to be about 1000 times more concentrated, at 50,000 parts per million, to pose an immediate risk to the public.

"But we have replaced the pipe and expect that this should bring the matter to a close."

Richmond Estate resident Morris Hey said he was delighted with the outcome. "Powerco has also done a much better job this time, in burying the pipe rather than leaving it on the surface."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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