Piping Theft Causes Gas Leak

20 June 2012, 11:38

Safety checks have had to be carried out after metal thieves caused a big gas leak at a Northampton primary school.

The Arbours Primary School was filled with gas as a result of the theft overnight on Tuesday 19 June 2012.

t's thought around 12 metres' worth of copper piping was taken.  This was stolen with professional tools, but the exposed ends of piping were only taped up with gaffer tape, and it was this that caused the gas to leak into the building.

The headteacher, Kat Johnston, took the decision early on Wednesday 20 June that the school would have to close for the day.

In a letter addressed to parents, she said "the amount of gas that had been pumping through the school was huge and it would have only taken a single spark to ignite it. The consequences of this do not bear thinking about."

The Arbours Primary School has 309 children on its register.  The school was hopeful of reopening as normal on Thursday 21 June.

Here is the letter from the headteacher Kat Johnston to parents

"Dear Parents and Carers,
I just want to explain in more detail the incident that led to the closure of the school this morning.
When I arrived at 7am, our site supervisor informed me that there was a strong smell of gas and that he suspected an attempted break in where they had cracked a gas pipe that led directly into school.
My main concern is always the safety of the children and staff and on entering the building we realised that there was a substantial amount of gas inside the school and that it would not be safe for anyone to be in the building for an extended amount of time.
At about 7.10am I took the decision to close the school as at thsi point we were unsure just how much damage had been caused.
Soon after the Amey team arrived and informed us that a length of copper pipe approximately 12 metres long had been stolen. The pipe had been cut using professional tools and had been gaffer taped off at the end leading to the gas entering the building. Some lead had also been stolen.
The amount of gas that had been pumping through the school was huge and it would have only taken a single spark to ignite it. The consequences of this do not bear thinking about. I am so appreciative of the quick thinking of our site supervisor who managed the scene on his arrival before 7am.
I must thank all the parents who helped to spread the message via Twitter, other social networking sites and the good old telephone! You helped us to spread the information really effectively.
Our staff also did a great job keeping parents informed as they arrived to school at the gates, so our thanks go them as well.
I am pleased to say that all the repairs will be able to be completed today and the school is being aired to ensure any remaining vapours have been eradicated.
It will be safe to return to school tomorrow and we look forward to seeing you all on Thursday morning.
Thank you all for your co-operation particularly at such short notice.
Best wishes
Kat Johnston"

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