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Metro Rail and Gas Pockets

April 28, 1985

Katherine Miller (Letters, April 2) expressed concern about the safety of operating the Metro Rail subway through the 3rd and Fairfax area because of oil and gas deposits.

RTD engineers knew at the start of planning that Metro Rail would encounter oil and gas, especially in the Fairfax area where there are abandoned oil wells. That's why we've worked closely with fire and safety officials during the past five years to incorporate safeguards in the design, construction and operation of Metro Rail.

Several safety systems are planned to minimize risk. First, the subway tunnels will be lined with steel to prevent oil and gas from seeping inside. Metro Rail stations will be protected with dense polyethylene sheets placed behind the station walls for similar protection.

As a backup, gas detectors will continuously monitor gas levels in all Metro Rail stations and tunnels. If gas is detected, an alarm will activate fans to ventilate the area.

During construction, RTD will adhere to strict federal and state safety regulations that establish the procedures to be followed when tunneling in gaseous areas. Many water and sewer tunnels have been built under similar conditions without incident by following these regulations.

The existing conditions in the area are known and appropriate actions have been taken to provide a safe environment for both workers and passengers.


Los Angeles

Patsaouras is director and president of the Southern California Rapid Transit District.

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