Bonn After gas was detected in Bonn-Duisdorf on Monday morning, Bahnhofstraße was blocked until late afternoon because of the risk of explosion and residents were evacuated.
A leak in a gas pipe brought the centre of Duisdorf to a standstill on Monday. There was a risk of explosion for hours and around a hundred residents and business people had to be evacuated from their buildings. The police and fire brigade were on standby and buses were temporarily halted because of the size of the area closed off. The main gas pipe on Am Burgweiher was damaged during works to drainage pipes and was difficult to repair.
“We smelled gas while out walking, and after that everything happened quite quickly,” said Hilde Kölb. The caregiver at the Caritas day-care centre, which is situated directly on the junction next to the gas pipe, was one of the first to be evacuated at around 11am along with around 20 others. For one woman, who was being treated at the centre for the mentally ill, it was all too much and she collapsed and was taken to hospital by ambulance. The rest of the group were also severely inconvenienced by the evacuation as buses could temporarily not reach the station and they were trapped in Duisdorf until the afternoon. They only learned bit by bit what was happening.
The gas pipe was damaged during works on Am Burgweiher at the corner of Bahnhofstraße. Continual measurements showed there was a risk of explosion. The fire brigade therefore used the “Nina” warning app to alert residents. A doctors’ practice, the Sparkasse bank and a student residence were evacuated.
The all clear could first be given at 4.45pm as there was no gate valve in the immediate vicinity of the trench with which this section of the main pipeline could be sealed off. Specialists from Stadtwerke Bonn therefore had to dig up the thick asphalt on the street in the middle of the junction, several metres from the site to expose the defective pipe. During this time, the fire brigade used high -powered fans around the trench to distribute the explosive gas and to make it harmless by thinning it with air.
“When we have uncovered such pipes, we seal them with balloons,” explained Stefan Behr from Stadtwerke Bonn. These particularly robust plastic balloons are placed in the pipe through a hole made with a special machine. “Then we fill the balloons with compressed air until they stop the gas supply and flow completely.”
One house will be supplied with gas from a temporary connection during the repair works. Traffic could use the junction again by the evening but it is not known how long it will take before the gas pipe is functioning again.
(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach and Axel Vogel / Translated by Kate Carey)