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Gas line rupture prompts evacuations in Apex

Posted December 9, 2013

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— Authorities evacuated areas around Dixie Pipeline Co. in Apex after a 2-inch gas line ruptured Monday morning, Apex police said.

The gas leak was capped within an hour, authorities said, and no one was injured.

Gas leak prompts evacuations in Apex Gas leak forces evacuations in Apex

N.C. Highway 55, from Technology Drive to U.S. Highway 1, was closed in both directions shortly after 11 a.m. and remained blocked for about an hour, causing heavy traffic delays.

Apex police Capt. Ann Stephens said Ready Mix Concrete, Waffle House, Puryear Trucking, Bojangles and VCA Apex Animal Hospital were evacuated as a precaution. She said people at Comfort Inn – a block away from the facility on East Williams Street – were told to “shelter in place.”

Chuck Bolibaugh owns a Subway sandwich shop next door to the company. He shuttered his store when police told him to go.

"We've never been through this type of thing before," he said. "They say 'gas leak' and you get a little iffy. But for the most part, it was all right."

For Apex Fire Chief Mark Haraway, the incident triggered memories of October 2006, when the Environmental Quality Industrial Services facility erupted into a fireball, and officials ordered about 17,000 people to evacuate because they feared that toxic chemicals were in the plume of smoke that spread over Apex.

"You know you can't help but think about it," Haraway said.

The 2-inch pipe break at Dixie paled in comparison, but Haraway said authorities have learned from that experience.

"We have a plan in place," he said. "It's a plan we practice twice a year with the facility and their personnel."

Stephens said the cause of the gas leak remains under investigation.

Dixie's terminal in Apex houses a larger, 12-inch pipeline that runs north from Texas and supplies propane to seven states. The terminal was shut down in November 2007 after that line ruptured in Carmichael, Miss., causing an explosion that killed two people.


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  • simplelogic Dec 10, 2013

    Areadriver, don't tell me what I'm smelling. I know the difference between the smell of mercaptan and human waste. What I smelled a month ago WAS mercaptan. It was so strong the fumes filled my car as I was driving by. That's the only time I've had that happen, and I've been driving that road every morning for the last couple of years. I've never smelled human waste in that area, and trust me I've lived long enough to know what THAT smells like.

  • rushbot Dec 9, 2013

    kudos to the town of apex for dealing with the problem so well.. ..

  • areadriver Dec 9, 2013

    oh, and the tanks don't periodically bleed, thats what that flare is for behind the plant. It burns off any extra gas. Its not general practice because gas=$$$. You sell it if it goes up in smoke.

  • areadriver Dec 9, 2013

    To all the people on here complaining about the smell of the gas, its not the gas you are smelling through there. Yes, mercaptan "smells", like rotten eggs. The smell through there is the smell of the Apex Wastewater treatment plant that sits directly behind the Dixie terminal. It is stronger depending on the weather, like when cold air moves in and the warm air coming out of the aeration tanks can't rise into the atmosphere. It stays at ground level, hence the smell. I will take the smell of mercaptan any day over the smell of human waste.

  • Obamacare for one and all Dec 9, 2013

    Now goncampn2 has me irritated as well. What a rude response.

  • simplelogic Dec 9, 2013

    "The odor is placed in the gas for a reason!! Get educated for crying out loud!!"

    I'm well aware of that, goncampn2, which is why I get a little edgy when I smell it. Isn't that the point? To know when there's a gas leak?

  • zonk Dec 9, 2013

    The smell is ethyl mercaptin It is a chemical that is added to the odorless propane to give the gas it's distinct smell. What people smell is the odorant NOT propane when they pass by.

  • notexactly Dec 9, 2013

    No all the complainers best hope that apex don't try to run the pipeline out like they did eq

  • goncampn2 Dec 9, 2013

    All y'all complaining about the smell of gas be thankful you can smell it. If you couldn't you would die!! The odor is placed in the gas for a reason!! Get educated for crying out loud!!

  • Riddickfield Dec 9, 2013

    That place always reeks of gas.