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Gas pocket interrupts work at utility construction site

Preliminary site work for a new National Grid substation in West Seneca was interrupted Friday morning when a contractor hit a pocket of suspected methane gas deep underground.

“The incident today had absolutely no impact on operations whatsoever,” said Stephen F. Brady, a spokesman for the utility.

A contractor was doing test borings on the site, at 885 Indian Church Road, when the pocket was hit at a depth of approximately 80 to 85 feet, Brady said. The contractor reported it to the on-site utility supervisor at 9:45 a.m.

“I guess it was hissing pretty good for a few minutes,” Brady said. Emergency crews at the scene reported shortly after 11 a.m. that the situation was mitigated.

No injuries were reported and no evacuations of nearby homes were required, Brady said.

National Grid has two substations at the Gardenville site; it’s replacing one built in the 1930s. New York State Electric & Gas also has a substation there.

“It’s an important site for us,” said Brady. “It’s a big project.”

The substation serves 189,000 customers in Western New York, a consultant for the utility told the West Seneca Planning Board earlier this year.

Brady said it could be a year or more before the substation is built. “It’s more than just the transformers that sit on the concrete pads,” he said, noting the project has underground components, as well as the transmission towers.