Breaking News: CSUB closes Business Development Center due to gas leak

Haydee Barahona, News Editor

Joseph Hedges and crew working on the gas leak at the round-about outside of the BDC. Photo by Julisa Muñoz / The Runner.

The Business Development Center at California State University, Bakersfield will be closed, and classes and office work in the buildings will remain virtual, through Friday, Oct.14.  

On Oct. 13, around 9 a.m., CSUB Alert sent out an email about an evacuation in BDC buildings A and B due to a gas smell outside the building. The system sent another email around 1 p.m. notifying that the BDC will be closed through Oct. 14. This includes classrooms and office spaces.  

“SoCalGas has identified a leak in an underground gas line and is aerating the ground to safely release the trapped gas,” wrote CSUB Public Information Officer Jennifer Self in an email to the campus community.   

Self sent a follow-up email on Oct. 14 about the status of the gas leak. 

Gas has not been restored on campus, and crews will continue to work on the gas line by the BDC. While classes and office work in BDC buildings A and B will remain virtual on Friday, Oct. 14, all other areas on campus will be open, and the campus community may report to class and work as usual. 

The campus community may report back to classrooms and office spaces in the BDC on Monday, Oct. 17. 

According to the email from Self, CSUB Chief of Police Martin Williamson and the team from SoCalGas reported that the area near the BDC is safe and the building has been cleared for occupancy. However, they would like to allow the work crews the space needed to continue working on the gas line. 

In an interview with The Runner, Joseph Hedges, associate vice president of Capital and Facilities Management Services, said that gas has been shut off throughout the entire campus to ensure the campus community’s safety.  

“The waterlines that run in the campus are CSUB’s waterlines. They are not the city’s. The gas lines are not SoCalGas. They’re our lines,” said Hedges.  

Hedges said that the current gas leak is on the north side of Building 441A of the BDC.  

Prior to this, on Sept. 29, CSUB Alert sent out an email reporting another evacuation of the BDC due to a minor gas leak near the Student Way Circle. The BDC reopened on Sept. 30 and facilities management continued to work on the gas leak.   

Hedges said that these are two different gas leaks within the same vicinity. The gas leak on Sept. 29 has been fixed. 

“We fixed that leak, but we noticed the gas still smells in that area. We couldn’t figure out if it was a residual smell or if it was a new leak, and that’s what clued us into the current one,” said Hedges. 

According to Hedges, the Student Way Circle is currently being demolished to fix the gas leak.  

Hedges said that natural gas is used for water heaters, which has affected the showers in student housing. Mobile shower units have been brought in to relieve the issue for residents and student-athletes. 

Natural gas is also used for food service on campus.  

“Most of the grills here run-on natural gas and they need hot water to wash for sanitation. So, food service has been adversely affected,” said Hedges.  

Panda Express will be closed temporarily until the gas service has been restored. Starbucks, Which Wich, and the food trucks will remain open. The Runner Café has suspended its hot meal preparation, but grab-and-go meals are available.  

Julisa Muñoz contributes to this story.