Two-Day Underground Propane Project Begins at East Campus Steam Plant

Work may result in a gas odor around Smith Warehouse and East Campus Steam Plant

Starting this Wednesday and continuing through Thursday, Duke Facilities Management will remove propane from a decommissioned underground tank near the East Campus Steam Plant. The process will likely result in a gas odor in the area around the plant, Smith Warehouse and Campus Drive.

Nearby roads and parking lots will not be affected.

The work, which will occur between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., is part of the renovation work at the East Campus Steam Plant. The underground tank held liquid propane as part of the plant’s back-up fuel source. In the future, the plant, now powered by natural gas, will have a reserve supply of fuel oil to use in case of emergency.

Most of the propane in the tank has been pumped out. But with approximately 1,000 gallons remaining in the tank, a special apparatus will be used to safely release or "burn/flare off" the rest of the propane through a pipe extending roughly 12-feet in the air.

Duke Facilities Management reviewed plans with fire safety experts in Duke’s Occupational & Environmental Safety Office and consulted with fire safety officials from the City of Durham.

Once the underground tank is empty, it will be filled with concrete.

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