Residents Concerned Over Chiswick Gas Leaks

Call on Hounslow Highways to stop using tarmac


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Residents in Chiswick have called on Hounslow Highways to stop using tarmac on pavements as they fear it could lead to a gas explosion.

One resident in Station Gardens, Grove Park has described how she had to leave her house after reporting a gas leak.

It transpired that the gas leak was coming from a pipe underneath the tarmac of the street outside her house. The gas engineer from the National Grid who attended the scene had told her that because there were no breaks in the paving surface due to tarmac being used, the gas had travelled along a pipe and into her property rather than dispersing into the atmosphere, she said.

The picture shows bamboo sticks marking all the points where tests by the national Gas team showed there to be leaking gas all down the street. Pic-Andy Murray

However Hounslow Council has rejected this claim. A council spokesperson said: “There is no evidence to show that asphalt, which is in common use throughout the country, suppresses gas. Gas does not generally become trapped as it dissipates through verges or other routes.”

Residents in the area maintain that having tarmac means that it is more difficult for the gas team to get at, isolate, and repair dangerous leaks and that the gas is trapped by the tarmac, so it has to exit via residents' houses rather than through paving stones.

The Station Gardens resident recalled that on October 29th, at 5.30 pm, she felt there was a smell of gas in the kitchen, so she called the emergency gas phone number. She thought at first it was coming from inside her house and switched off her appliances.

"The gas leak turned out to be coming from a pipe underneath the tarmac of the street outside my house, and, because there are no breaks in the paving surface, the gas had crept into the property rather than dispersing into the atmosphere. Due to the strength and solidity of the tarmac, the British Gas engineer called The National Grid to come out with big drills to drill the tarmac, to create a hole to let the gas escape".

She said the drilling went on for 3 hours, up to around 11.30pm, as emergency action. This meant that her daughter, who is 9, and her son, 5, had to be taken in their pyjamas to her mother's, so they could have supper and sleep in safety.

"It is clear to everyone involved that if there had been paving slabs there, gas would have leaked through into the atmosphere through the gaps and the gas services would have been able to lift the slabs, rather than use big heavy noisy drills. Because the pipes are sealed under tarmac, the gas leak was forced into my property, leaving my whole family in a potentially very dangerous situation

"After the recent sad events in Hounslow due to gas, I really strongly feel there should be more consideration to keep the properties safer, and one step would be to have paving slabs instead of tarmac."

The leak has now been completely repaired but residents in Station Gardens are getting together a petition to ask for the Council to replace the tarmac with paving stones. They had already been angry over a lack of consultation or prior knowledge that tarmac was being used on their pavements instead of replacing the paving stones, as in other areas of Chiswick.

A spokesperson for Bedford Park residents said there had also been incidents in his area.

"The gas leak reports are very worrying.  There are two gas leaks in Bath Road and one in The Avenue in the Bedford Park area being repaired now (with damage caused to VirginMedia’s cable trunking).  People were able to report those when the gas leaked from between paving stones. 

Had the walkways been covered in tarmac, the people in the buildings nearby could have been put at risk.  Bath Road has a school and the Arts Ed college.  I think it shows how old our gas piping is around here and work above them has to be done carefully.

"Hounslow Council should stop the use of tarmac in walkways if the work is damaging to gas mains.  I have complained today to National Grid and asked them to review with Hounslow Council what is happening."

November 9, 2013

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