Joy D. Moser
Director, Public Affairs Office
Work: (785) 274-1192
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 2, 2001
UPDATE ON ACTIVITIES RELATING TO GAS EXPLOSIONS IN HUTCHINSON
By Stephen D. Larson
Some of the people evacuated because of gas explosions in Hutchinson have been allowed to return to their homes and businesses, even as the drilling of vent wells continues. A second person, who was critically injured in an explosion at a mobile home park, died Jan. 29 as a result of her injuries.
The area opened up for relocation has expanded to an area bordered by the railroad tracks on the west and Chemical Street on the east, 4th to 8th Ave. This area encompasses 134 homes and businesses. Cargill Salt has also reopened its operations.
Residents of the Big Chief mobile home park who own fifth wheels and travel trailers are being allowed to remove their vehicles from the park. Other residents are being allowed to remove personal belongings.
Gov. Bill Graves has directed the Kansas Geological Survey to re-direct agency resources in order to continue with technical assistance in evaluating the gas leaks and explosions. As a result of Graves order, the geological survey postponed a commitment to conduct out-of-state geological research for the United States Army.
The Kansas Geological Survey is uniquely qualified to provide research and evaluation of the underground natural gas problem in Hutchinson, said Graves. I want to make it clear that the critical nature of the events in Hutchinson warrant additional attention from the Survey.
The first phase of the Surveys research focuses on seismic tests to determine the location of underground
geological pathways which might allow for the movement of leaked natural gas from one location to another. Testing is ongoing.
Kansas Gas Service continues to drill wells to vent gas. They have found gas at two new sites, said Bill Guy, Reno County Emergency Manager. One site is in Rice Park in the west-central portion of the city. The other site is at 12th and Plum, near the Kansas Cosmosphere and the community college.
In addition to venting the gas, technicians are studying refilling the cavities with saturated brine to prevent collapse. Two gas flares have been left burning in Hutchinson to relieve gas pressure. Two other gas flares are being added.
The American Red Cross emergency shelter will close on Monday, Feb. 5. Those in the shelter now will be provided with emergency housing through the Red Cross.
In addition to City of Hutchinson and Reno County fire, law enforcement and emergency management agencies and private geological consultants, state agencies and organizations that have given response and recovery support for this emergency including the Kansas Division of Emergency Management of The Adjutant Generals Department, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Corporation Commission, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Department of Human Resources, Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing and Kansas Geological Survey. Other agencies and businesses involved in the response include Kansas Gas Service, American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.