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OWASA Orders Halt On East Franklin Street Project

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ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. — Officials with

The Orange Water and Sewer Authority

(OWASA) issued a Stop Work order to Thalle Construction, thecontractor that was doing work on a water main replacement project when a natural gas fire occurred Tuesday night on East Franklin Street.

The fire occurred just east of Estes Drive at about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday when a backhoe struck a 4-inch-diameter natural gas line, causing a release of gas which was ignited. The natural gas line was about 18 inches below the top surface of the street, and just beneath a layer of asphalt and a layer of concrete.

Imtiaz Ahmad, OWASA's Director of Engineering and Planning, said the utility issued the Stop Work order pending further review to ensure the safe and proper conduct of the construction.

"We need to further review our contractor's operations and coordination procedures with other entities in order to avoid any further accidents," he said.

The Stop Work letter is for an unspecified period.

OWASA representatives met Wednesday afternoon with representatives of ThalleConstruction, Duke Energy, PSNC Energy, the Town of Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to review the fire incident and what can be done to prevent future accidents.

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