Major natural gas leak in Columbia

Several emergency personnel responded about 6 p.m. Thursday to a reported large gas leak in the area of Admiral Trost Drive behind Walgreens and the Hampton Inn off Route 3 in Columbia.

A strong odor of gas could be detected by many in that area at the time of the incident, which resulted in the closure of traffic on Route 3 from North Main Street to South Main Street and the evacuation of several large businesses such as Walgreens, CVS and Schnucks – all of Columbia Centre – and both Columbia Middle School and Columbia High School. Bluff Road was also shut down in that area.

Traffic was diverted onto Main Street as crews worked to repair the leak, with major backups reported.

Shortly after 7 p.m., Columbia police reported that the gas leak had been contained and emergency personnel reopened Route 3, Bluff Road and all nearby businesses and side streets.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

Ameren responded as common protocol in natural gas leak situations, but this was in a supportive role as the leak was at an Enable Mississippi River Transmission regulator station and caused by a valve issue.

Enable Mississippi River Transmission has a large pipeline that delivers natural gas from CenterPoint Energy into the Midwest.

Columbia Fire Chief Mike Roediger said a gas line became “over pressurized” and it blew off a relief valve, triggering the large leak. Wind was blowing to the south at the time, he said.

Several area fire departments assisted Columbia in the incident, including Waterloo, Dupo, Millstadt, Mehlville (Mo.), Smithton, Cahokia and Prairie du Pont.

The Monroe County Emergency Management Agency also responded to the incident.

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