Major engineering work is under way to repair a gas main that runs unseen at least two metres below a busy roundabout in Tipton.
Cadent, which manages the local gas distribution network, has identified a leak on the pipe which transports gas to local homes.
Teams are working on this essential repair ‘live’ – so gas stays on – and are largely out of sight, below ground level, given the depth of the pipe.
The main is 18-inches in diameter and part of the vast underground network that moves gas around the West Midlands.
To keep traffic moving safely around the work area, traffic lights are now at the roundabout where Alexandra Road meets Lower Church Lane and Upper Church Lane.
Priority is given at all times for the nearby fire station and the lights are manned during the daytime to ensure the quickest flow of traffic at busiest times.
“This is a very challenging job,” explained Mark Edwards, Head of Customer Operations, West Midlands (North), Cadent.
“Our priority is to repair the pipe, while keeping everyone safe and gas flowing to local homes. The leak itself, while small and not an immediate safety concern, does need to be fixed before it gets any worse.
“The location is a big issue – deep underground, which requires additional safety measures to protect our teams, and beneath a busy roundabout. We know it’s not great to have to wait at lights and appreciate everyone’s patience.”
The repair work is expected to continue into June, with specialist teams brought in and bespoke parts needing to be made.
If anyone smells gas, they must report it immediately to the national gas emergency number 0800 111 999*. Do not assume it is related to this work – it may not be and must be checked.
Cadent in the West Midlands
Cadent operates four of the UK’s eight gas distribution networks: North West, West Midlands, Eastern and North London. Its West Midlands network covers a wide area from North Staffordshire to Herefordshire, reaching the M1 in the East and the Welsh borders on the West.
Hundreds of engineers and support teams ensure 24/7, year-round management of an underground piped gas distribution network which, if placed end to end, stretches to more than 15,000 miles. That’s almost 4.5 times the distance from Tipton to New York.
Cadent also provides the region’s gas emergency service, with operatives ready to respond quickly, day and night, to reported gas escapes or carbon monoxide incidents, or to support the blue-light emergency services dealing with incidents where gas is present (e.g. house fires).
The West Midlands network is playing a huge role in helping to switch the gas grid away from fossil fuels, with Cadent, Keele University and other partners recently completing a UK-first trial of blending hydrogen into the existing gas pipe network. Using hydrogen in this blended way is a key step to converting the UK-wide system – essential to achieving net zero carbon emissions.