WEST (April 22, 2013)—About 350 homes in the 37-block area of West affected by the massive fertilizer plant explosion could be without water for as long as three weeks because of possible damage to underground pipes, Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Vanek said Monday.
Utility crews and engineers are in the process of inspecting the underground infrastructure and the process will take at least a week and possibly as long as three weeks, Vanek said.
“We encourage you to find a place to stay until we can get these services back online due to health and safety hazards,” he said.
A boil order remains in effect for all West water customers until further notice.
“This is a very difficult time for everybody in this community,” Vanek said.
“We will get through it.”
The concussion from the blast may have damaged the joints between 40-foot sections of pipe, Vanek said, and the high demand for water as firefighters battled more than a dozen blazes caused by the blast may also have caused damage.
The city’s water treatment plant was not damaged, he said.
Limited electrical and natural gas service has been restored in the area, he said.
A second town hall meeting for residents is scheduled at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the West Knights of Columbus Hall, he said.
Two of the three sections of the blast-affected area from Oak Street north to Spring Street were allowed to return to their homes over the weekend.
The first section, from Walnut Street five blocks south to Oak Street, was reopened Saturday and the area from Walnut Street to Spring Street was reopened Sunday.
The area north of Spring Street, where damage is the heaviest, remains closed, Vanek said Monday, but planning is underway to allow residents to enter that area to retrieve vehicles.
Some of the conditions set for the return to homes were lifted Monday.
Residents younger than 18 may now enter the first two sections, and trucks weighing no more than 10,000 pounds, and trailers no longer than 16 feet will now be allowed in.
Access to the first two sections is still allowed only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and a 7 p.m. curfew remains in effect, as well.
Some of the barriers placed on Oak Street to limit access are being moved to Spring Street to restore normal traffic flow, Vanek said.
The response from around the state and the U.S. has been overwhelming, Vanek said.
So many items have been donated that there’s no room for any more material contributions.
He asked that those who wish to help the residents either donate money or gift cards.
He also said the town is taking steps to protect residents from unscrupulous contractors through strict enforcement of West’s peddler’s ordinance, which requires anyone soliciting business to obtain a permit first.