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‘The gas should be blue’: Fells Point businesses concerned about gas line issue

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Posted at 10:03 PM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 23:22:16-04

BALTIMORE — A gas line issue is creating a headache for businesses in Fells Point.

Owners alerted WMAR-2 News about a white substance they say is now causing kitchen equipment to seemingly break down.  

The issue is being traced back to an old gas line.

“My oven is my everything,” Pie in the Sky owner Murat Murcan said. “I have to have it. You know, if there’s no oven, I cannot operate.” 

Murcan told WMAR-2 News he’s had to shut his doors due to multiple gas line issues. Naturally, he called BGE. 

“The technicians are telling me that the orange flame and the sediment in the gas pipes is causing all of this trouble,” Murcan said.

Several businesses along South Broadway, including Barley’s Backyard, are dealing with the same problem.

“It’s a very fine white powder and it’s clogging all of our pilot lights and burners,” said owner Bill Packo. “Almost all of our equipment is down in the kitchen.” 

Not knowing what the issue originally was, restaurants owners said they called repair companies and spent thousands of dollars to have items repaired.  

“This equipment,” said Murcan, pointing to his pizza oven, “I just spent $1,500 on two pieces of equipment. We have changed both of them three times already.” 

Owners then found out the problem is underground.

“It’s strictly not equipment,” said Packo. “It’s supply. It’s gas supply coming, from what I’m told, an over 100-year-old main.” 

If gas is flowing, it burns a red or orange color. According to online sources, the color could indicate a potential safety hazard. 

WMAR-2 News reached out to the utility about the situation.

In a statement BGE said: 

“BGE is aware that some customers in Fells Point and surrounding areas have experienced particulate in their gas appliances resulting in orange flames, instead of the expected blue. While this is not the usual gas flame color, there are no known safety concerns. You may continue to safely use your gas appliances. BGE is currently working to address the issue. If you have any questions, please call BGE at 800.685.0123.” 

BGE is also encouraging people to file online claims for any replaced equipment. 

In the meantime, businesses want to know if the utility has a timeline to address the particulate buildup. 

“I need better communication,” said Murcan. 

In a later email to WMAR-2 News BGE said: 

“We are continuing to work to address the issue. We are finalizing our plan and, once it is ready, we will be communicating directly with customers in Fells Point. If customers find particulate in their appliances, and are having issues with their appliances, they may file a claim via bge.com. Impacted customer’s claims will be investigated.”