BY KEN LITTLE
An Atmos Energy work crew inadvertently punctured a natural gas line about 11 a.m. Thursday on North Loretta Street near the intersection with West Church Street in downtown Greeneville, near the former Norfolk Southern Railway depot.
The line was punctured by an Atmos crew working at the site with a backhoe, according to Lt. Craig Bowlby, of the Greeneville Fire Department.
The eight-inch line where the leak originated was capped off by Atmos workers before noon, said Lt. Bowlby.
Members of the Greeneville Fire Department stood by as the Atmos Energy crew capped the leaking line.
"We were just there to help if something did go wrong. They're real efficient, safety-wise," Bowlby said.
'NO DANGER TO PUBLIC'
After the puncture, a strong odor of natural gas drifted several blocks south, to the Greeneville Historic District area, where workers and pedestrians quickly noticed the pungent smell.
Some employees of downtown businesses such as Andrew Johnson Bank, at the corner of North Main and Church streets, walked outside to try to determine where the odor was coming from, but went back to work after several minutes.
"To my knowledge, we did not evacuate any buildings," Bowlby said.
There was never danger to the public, despite the strong gas odor, Bowlby said.
Natural gas is lighter than air, "so it rises and disperses pretty quick," he added.