Highway 6 Gas Leak Stopped

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Highway 6 at Jones Creek was lit up with the lights of numerous emergency vehicles between late Friday evening and early Saturday morning.

Sometime before 6:00 p.m. Friday, a construction worker accidentally ruptured a line, causing gasoline to leak. The road was closed and traffic in the area had to be diverted onto FM 159 and FM 2154 to keep drivers out of harm's way.

First responders from a number of Brazos County fire departments responded, along with Texas Department of Transportation crews, Brazos County Sheriff's deputies and Texas Highway patrolmen to secure the area.

Sirens from emergency vehicles alerted some residents who live on Harlan Road off Highway 6 that something had happened.

Around 12:00 a.m. Saturday, Tim Gallagher says phones in his neighborhood began to ring and residents learned just how serious the situation was.

"A recorded message from Brazos County Emergency Management was informing us of the situation and making reference to voluntary evacuations," Gallagher said.

A number of residents decided not to venture out and stayed put. Others who had left their homes earlier were unable to return because law enforcement blocked off entry and exit from Harlan Road. Many had to find somewhere else to spend the night.

"It did cause a few of the neighbors some issues," Gallagher said. "One in particular was trying to get home last night but was not able to. He was out of town. He had to spend the night out of town."

Brazos County officials were able to reopen Highway 6 by 6:00 a.m. Saturday after field pipeline crews from Exxon Mobil, the owners of the gasoline line, were able to repair the hole.

Exxon Mobil's Vice President of Southern Operations for the pipeline company, Patrick Doolin, says alert personnel in their control center in Houston were able to activate and executive the emergency contingency plan properly.

"They quickly shut the line down," Doolin said. "They saw that the line had a problem, and then we went into response mode."

Firefighters and a hazardous materials response team from Exxon Mobil's Baytown refinery in Houston and its Belview plant were deployed to Brazos County.

The eight-inch pipeline in question delivers 40,000 barrels worth of gasoline and diesel fuel from the Baytown refinery to its Irving terminal in Dallas.

Doolin says now, the focus is on getting this particular pipeline on line again.

Residents and officials from all the organizations involved say clear communication, cooperation, and unified goal avoided a potentially dangerous situation.

"All in all, it was handled properly on all ends of this thing," Gallagher said.