ATTLEBORO — The city council — unhappy with the responses to a dangerous natural gas leak on Torrey Street and that the city is ranked seventh on a list of 63 cities and towns with leaky gas lines — is expected to ask the state’s Department of Public Utilities to investigate.
A resolution seeking the inquiry, authored by Councilor Todd Kobus, was voted out of committee this week and will be put before the full council on Tuesday.
Most councilors seem to back it.
If approved, the resolution would be submitted with the results of the council’s investigation along with a request for “further study and review” by DPU, which regulates utilities such as Columbia Gas.
All parts of the resolution didn’t meet with approval, however.
Councilor Jay DiLisio questioned “the relevancy” of a reference to the deadly George Street natural gas explosion 21 years ago, which killed two water department workers and injured seven other people.
But council President Mark Cooper endorsed the reference and pushed for the resolution’s passage.
“It’s important to let them know we’ve had a catastrophe and we don’t want the DPU to forget it,” he said.
But Councilor Richard Conti, who praised Kobus for his work on the issue which established new safety rules for the water department, said he thinks the resolution will be fruitless.
“I don’t think this council has any traction with the DPU,” he said. “I think it will be forgotten. I don’t support this resolution because I think it will be ineffective.”
However Cooper said what the DPU does is up to the DPU.
The council has its own responsibilities.
“It is our responsibility to report it to those who have the authority to do something about it,” he said. “If they throw it in the trash, they throw it in the trash.”
If it’s not submitted and something else happens, the council will be blasted for not reporting it, he said.
Councilors Laura Dolan and Kate Jackson criticized a sentence that seemed to blame the water department for the Torrey Street leak, which forced the evacuation of three homes in the middle of the night on April 27.
Neither believes the cause of the leak has been established.
A gas company employee told Mayor Paul Heroux the main line was corroded and had to be repaired and a stub line to a house on Torrey had to be cut and capped.
Another employee told Kobus the only repair was the cutting and capping of the stub line.
The water department has acknowledged it hit the stub line, which was unmarked by Dig Safe five days before the evacuation, as workers repaired a water main break.
But Dolan said she supports the rest of the resolution and would include sections about a lack of cooperation by Columbia Gas and the fact that the city has the seventh most Grade 1 and 2 gas leaks in the state on a list of 63 cities and towns.
Jackson said she won’t support the resolution.
Heather Porreca, the council’s vice president and a mayoral candidate, said the resolution should be sent.
“This is the next best step to ensure that Columbia Gas pays attention to the city of Attleboro,” she said.
Councilor Peter Blais, Sara Lynn Reynolds, Ty Waterman and Diana Holmes also expressed support for the document.