Natural gas leak causes evacuation in LEAP and OEI

Leah Boynton

Campus Safety received a complaint of a gas leak in the lower level of the Campus Center on Friday Oct. 21 at approximately 8:30 a.m. according to an email sent by Safety and Compliance Coordinator Magaly Perez. 

It was later determined that the leak wasn’t harmful, however, precautions were taken to ensure staff and student safety.

Staff from the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), the Leadership Experiences and Programing (LEAP) Office, and the Campus Bookstore were evacuated two hours later to allow Whittier College’s Facilities Services and the SoCal Gas company to examine the situation. 

The Spot’s kitchen was also closed all day on Friday due to the gas leak. The LEAP staff and OEI staff moved to the Dean of Student’s Office to continue doing their work as usual, and make the best of the situation. 

Students that work at the front desk of LEAP and OEI were also sent an email and informing them that they should not come into work that day. 

The OEI staff said they felt as though there was open communication with SoCal Gas, and that they were taken care of. 

It was confirmed by SoCal Gas that the leak wasn’t harmful or dangerous because it was a natural gas leak, according to Associate Dean of Students Joshua Hartman. 

The LEAP and OEI staff returned to their offices at approximately 2:30 p.m. after they were signaled an all-clear from Facility Services and SoCal Gas.

“Upon arrival, they were incredibly quick in examining the issue and communicating to our staff any potential safety hazards,” said Assistant Director of LEAP Debbie Allison. “Throughout the process, [SoCal Gas] was incredibly helpful and maintained continued communication with our staff. They even returned on Monday morning to follow-up and ensure the gas levels were back to normal.”

Senator sophomore Meghan Pistolesi said at Monday night’s Senate meeting that her constituents were concerned because the email from Perez informing the campus community of the threat wasn’t received until Monday Oct. 24 due to problems with the student list server. 

As of now, there is no threat to students or staff that work in the lower section of the Campus Center.