A gas leak in the 3923-3925 Lewis Avenue apartments at Mercyhurst College will force approximately 30 summer residents to move to Briggs Avenue on short notice.
National Fuel Gas (NFG) workers discovered the leak after they changed the buildings’ gas meters, according to Assistant Director of Residence Life and Student Conduct Sam Barlekoff, who was first to respond to the incident.
NFG tried to patch several small leaks, but shut the gas off completely after a nitrogen test determined the pressure still wasn’t holding, Barlekoff said.
The residents were notified Wednesday afternoon, several hours after the leaks were discovered.
“We didn’t think it was a big problem,” Barlekoff said. “They usually found one or two little leaks behind stoves… In this case they could not find the leak and we let [the residents] know when we found out they were shutting the gas off permanently.”
Many residents were confused and worried by the information they received before Residence Life sent an official email on Thursday.
“No one really had any details of the situation and what we did know was predominantly hearsay. I was forced to take time out of my work day to figure out what was truly going on,” alumna Stephanie Williams said. “All in all, it could have been handled in a far more professional and proper manner.”
Residence Life has asked residents to move out by Sunday night so workers can begin renovations on Monday. “If residents have real issues, we’ll work with them, but we don’t want them in there if they have to tear out walls,” Barlekoff said.
Junior Dan Zook left work early on Thursday to move out of his apartment. “It’s really an inconvenience, but what can you do? It’s a surprise, but you’ve just got to go with the flow,” Zook said.
An e-mail sent to residents on Thursday said walls, floors and ceilings may need to be demolished in order to find pipe leaks inside the walls.
“The building’s not going to explode, there is no inhalation of gas, and it is my understanding is this was not the case before we shut the gas off. It was such a minute leak. No one is in any danger, we just don’t want it to build up in walls,” Barlekoff said. “We want to get it taken care of. It’s a better safe than sorry situation.”
Residents with questions are encouraged to call the Residence Life office during normal business hours at 824-2422 or the AD on duty after business hours at 824-3889.