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home : news : north central illinois   May 25, 2016

1/14/2014 6:15:00 AM
Boss buys breakfast, lunch for evacuated employees

Repair crews were allowing gas to vent, noisily, north of Peru so they could make a repair after a leak in Ladd.
NewsTribune photos/Craig SterrettLadd police chief William Gaefcke was keeping traffic from driving past where gas was being vented noisily west of Meridian Road, north of Peru and just east of Plank Road due to a leak in a 36-inch gas main on the north side of Ladd.
+ click to enlarge
NewsTribune photos/Craig Sterrett
Ladd police chief William Gaefcke was keeping traffic from driving past where gas was being vented noisily west of Meridian Road, north of Peru and just east of Plank Road due to a leak in a 36-inch gas main on the north side of Ladd.
+ click to enlarge
Gas leak closed Route 89 for five hours at Ladd

LADD — Ladd firefighters evacuated a factory and closed Route 89 on the north edge of town Monday because of a leak in a large natural gas main.

Just after 8 a.m., the leak could be heard by passersby on Route 89 just north of Tee Group Films, but the noise from that was nothing compared to the din of a pipe that was opened for venting north of Peru between Plank and Meridian roads just before midday.

“It sounds like a jet airplane taking off,” said Kurt Kassabaum, who works on the north side of Peru.

Ladd fire chief B.J. Liebe said the department was called about a natural gas odor. When they went to investigate, they could hear a whistling noise or something like boiling water, Liebe said. The sound from the leak in the buried main was muted by the ground.

“That’s a 36-inch diameter pipeline, so it’s carrying upward of 700 pounds of pressure,” Liebe said.

He said all that pressure is why the venting north ofPeruwas so loud.

“They say they can hear it all the way down by Jeff Perry,” Liebe said, referring to a car dealership 2-3 miles away.

The venting was a relatively slow, even though the gas was coming out like a geyser.

“It’s going to take awhile,” Liebe said from a fire truck blocking Route 89 on the north end of the downtown. “They’ve got to drain about 11 miles of the line.”

Route 89 was being reopened at 12:45 p.m.
Cherry firefighters also assisted at the scene.

In addition to Tee Group Films, a house north of the leak was evacuated.

Ladd police chief Bill Gaefcke was blocking traffic from using Meridian Road east of Ladd and just east of the Ladd Road turnoff fromPlank Road.

Emergency personnel contacted Nicor (now known as AGL), and were told to contact Kinder-Morgan, the interstate pipeline owner.
Route 89 reopened at about 12:45 p.m., and Tee Group Films employees were allowed to return to work (see sidebar).

Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or

Craig Sterrett
News Editor

LADD — About 25 employees of Tee Group Films in Ladd had light duty all morning and then difficult duty for the rest of their shift Monday after they were evacuated because of a gas leak about 100 yards north of the factory.

“We were evacuated and went to Torri’s,” said Tee Group owner and president Tom Malpass.

Malpass bought the employees breakfast, lunch and, if they wanted it, ice cream from the antique ice cream and sandwich parlor in downtown Ladd.

After that, they all had to get back to work on the difficult process of restarting after a sudden halt.

“All the plastic hardens,” Malpass said. The plastic that’s made into film used in various products would have to be heated back up, some would have to be thrown out and some things in the plant would need cleaning.

Tee Group makes plastic film used by tire and rubber companies and used in some construction products.

It’s the last company in the world still making film for correctable typewriter ribbons, Malpass said.

The Ladd company has two 12-hour shifts. Malpass said when the 7 p.m. shift came in, they still would have work to do that related to the stoppage and restart.

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