Gas pipe repair a 'delicate process'

By APNZ

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A leak in a major gas pipeline has left some North Island businesses no option other than to shut down until it has been repaired. File photo / Thinkstock
A leak in a major gas pipeline has left some North Island businesses no option other than to shut down until it has been repaired. File photo / Thinkstock

Vector believes sub-surface ground movement may have caused a crack in the Maui pipeline which is crippling many businesses in the central and upper North Island.

Vector chief executive Simon Mckenzie said repair teams are likely to complete excavating the site to give them access to the pipe tomorrow morning.

"This is a very delicate process because we do not want to compound any of the issues of the pipeline through excavating too quickly and causing any land issues,'' Mr Mckenzie said at a press conference this afternoon.

"The team continues to work 24/7 and, in parallel with this, the pipeline repair options are all fully developed and once that pipeline is fully excavated then we will choose which repair option is the best one to utilise.''

Gas supply has resumed to essential services like hospitals, however, they, and residential gas users, are being asked to be as conservative as possible with their gas usage.

The ruptured Maui pipeline is continuing to cause gas-reliant businesses to lose money and it is still uncertain how long it will take before they can get back up and running.

Rob Bedford, owner of small Mt Maunganui food manufacturing company Indigo Foods, said he was still paying his two staff and getting them to do cleaning and tidying.

"It's put us on hold and I know a lot of companies around here are in the same situation.

"It's just interesting that we're so reliant on one gas line to actually feed the whole upper North Island, it's just bizarre.''

More than 2500 businesses have been affected by the leak.

Burger King was forced to close almost all its restaurants in the upper North Island and gym-goers at Les Mills had to endure cold showers.

Prisons have also been affected.

Department of Corrections manager of finance, systems and infrastructure Mike Martelli said gas supply was lost at Auckland Prison, Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility, Mt Eden Corrections Facility and Waikeria Prison.

However, supply was being restored and basics such as hot water and electric power were still available.

"While these types of situations are uncommon, we have plans in place for them. Public safety remains our top priority and there has been no threat to prison security as a result of the shortages,'' Mr Martelli said.

Auckland Council has also begun shutting down gas supplies to its buildings and services, which could disrupt services such as swimming pools, crematoria and heating of some council buildings.

Mayor Len Brown urged Aucklanders to reduce usage where possible.

The Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) said it had been deluged with calls from workers whose jobs were affected by the leak and was telling them they should not be disadvantaged by the leak and should not lose any pay.

"Thousands of our members are employed in large food processing factories like Griffin's and Bluebird in the upper North Island,'' said SFWU food industry leader Chas Muir.

"We are advising members that any good employer will have insurance cover and the onus is on the employer to do the right thing.

"We are advising our members that if they are ready and willing to work it is the employer's responsibility to pay them.''

- APNZ

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