NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - Jackson County Sheriff David Lucas said no criminal charges will be filed against the construction company who struck a large natural gas line Wednesday afternoon.
According to Lucas, construction crews called Arkansas One Call before they started digging south of Newport. Wednesday afternoon, crews ruptured a 24-inch natural gas pipeline owned by Enable Midstream Partners. According to the Arkansas Geological Commission, the line runs through southwest Arkansas through the northeast part of the state.
Lucas said the pipe was ruptured where Highway 367 South and Highway 14 West split. Both roads were closed coming into Newport and no one was allowed to go over the Blue Bridge as gas crews worked to fix that gas main.
"There were about five houses that were occupied and we've evacuated those folks for precautionary reasons. We've also shut down the Union Pacific railroad," Lucas said. "That gas line, it's a 24 inch main and there's a lot of gas moves through there and the way the wind's blowing, we didn't want to take any chances."
Lucas said the construction crew has been in town for a short while, moving dirt to the construction site of the new bridge. Lucas said there are conflicting reports of whether that crew called Arkansas One Call before they started digging.
Regardless, it created an unstable situation for the crews fixing the gas main as they had to shut down the line between Oil Trough and Tuckerman to repair the damage.
"They're trying to take all the pressure off the gas line. Once they do that, they'll pull all of the gas out of that section that's broken," Sheriff Lucas said. "Once that gas pressure drops down lower, it gets pretty critical as far as explosion, stuff like that."
Sheriff Lucas told Region 8 News Wednesday evening that the line was cleared without any problems. The roads were reopened around 7:30pm and everyone who was evacuated was able to return home. The railroad was also opened back up.
Sheriff Lucas said since that gas main has been emptied, crews began repair work Thursday morning.