Gas Leak Closes Shaws, Two Other Stores


Front Page / Dec. 3, 2009 3:23pm EST

By Bob Eddy

An excavator clipped a gas line at Justin Morgan Plaza Wednesday morning, resulting in evacuation of Shaw’s Supermarket, Aubuchon Hardware, and Randolph National Bank’s drive-in facility.

Michael Shea, project superintendent for Naegley and Chase’s Kinney Drug construction explained, "We were preparing for the removal of four old gas tanks, when one of our excavators hooked a line, breaking the seal of a cut-off valve."

The accident occurred some time after 10:30 a.m. The complex was evacuated as soon as the Randolph Fire Department arrived at about 11a.m.

"We were simply asked to leave our carts where they stood in the aisles and immediately leave the store and parking lot," explained Helene Woodward of Braintree, who was shopping at Shaw’s during the incident.

Joined at the far side of the parking lot by dozens of store employees and construction workers, Mary Ahlstrom, of Randolph, was given a chair to sit in while she waited for Stagecoach Transportation to take her home. Like Woodward, her groceries had to be left behind.

Unseasonably mild temperatures in the mid-forties under sunny skies helped make the initial wait comfortable for those unable to retrieve coats. As minutes passed into hours, however, the sun passed behind clouds and a chill settled over the onlookers.

Coincidentally, the Randolph Fire Department had just reviewed procedures for gas leaks at their Tuesday night meeting. They blocked entrances to the plaza while Randolph Police helped direct traffic, initially allowing only representatives from Blue Flame Gas of South Barre near the spill site.

Blue Flame is providing new gas tanks and service for the newly expanded complex. Workers on site when the fire department arrived helped determine the nature of the problem. Ultimately, a representative from Suburban Propane was brought in from Lebanon, to assist in assessing and securing the site.

The plaza was reopened about 2 p.m. and the tank was removed by 2:30. No further clean-up is necessary, it was reported.

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