Another Gas Leak on Haight Street Months After Troubled Project Resumes

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Two workers from Synergy Project Management hold a foreman by his ankles as he works in a Haight Street manhole on July 21, 2015.  (San Francisco Public Works)

Updated 6:40 a.m., Wednesday to include comments by Supervisor London Breed.

San Francisco's Department of Public Works is investigating a gas leak that took place in the city's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood Monday afternoon.

The department says the incident was caused by contractors who struck a pipeline while doing work on the same major infrastructure project that led to a series of pipeline breaks last year.

Shorty after 2:30 p.m., fire crews responded to a call about a gas leak at Haight and Steiner Streets, according to the Fire Department. In a tweet, the agency said the incident was resolved an hour later.

A contractor hit a gas line in the midst of conducting lateral sewer work, San Francisco Public Works spokeswoman Rachel Gordon said in a text message. Gordon emphasized that the incident did not prompt any evacuations or shelter-in-place orders.

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Gordon also said a new agency protocol, set up after last year's gas breaks, worked. The Fire Department was alerted immediately, it published information quickly on social media and PG&E capped the gas line quickly.

But, she said, the department's inspectors are reviewing what happened.

The leak comes several months after work on the Haight Street project resumed. Last October, safety problems halted the $13.7 million project. Months later the city fired a subcontractor and began considering agencywide changes to complicated underground jobs.

The Haight Street project involves replacing some sewers and water mains, as well as repaving streets.

The subcontractor that was fired, Synergy Management, was tied to at least four gas line breaks. The firm was also involved in several incidents that raised questions about its safety practices. One of those incidents involved workers dangling a foreman head-first into a manhole.

Supervisor London Breed represents the area, pushed to get Synergy fired and called a Board of Supervisors hearing into some of the project's problems.

"It's frustrating to have another gas leak on this project," she said in a statement. "But, this was not like what we experienced last year in the Upper Haight."

Breed pointed out that a lateral gas line was hit, not a larger main line. "The new contractor, Fire Department and Public Works all responded very quickly and ensured everyone's safety."