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Part of Summer Street to remain closed overnight after steam pipe leak

Part of Summer Street in Boston will remain closed overnight as crews test the air for hazardous material following a steam pipe leak early Saturday morning, officials said.

Initial air test results were negative for hazardous material, according to a statement issued late Saturday from Veolia North America, the company operating the pipe.

Members of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission first responded to a pipe issue on Summer Street around 1:15 a.m., according to the company’s statement Saturday.

The Boston Fire Department was on scene at the time to respond to a steam leak from a pipe that is operated by Veolia, said Brian Alkins, a department spokesman.


The pipe was shut off after the initial call, Alkins said.

A second call was made to the Fire Department for debris on a vehicle at the scene, Alkins said.

The area near 99 Summer St. was blocked off around 5:30 a.m. when debris became visible as it settled on a car near the steam leak, which happened earlier in the morning, Alkins said.

“No one noticed the debris because it was dark out, but once the sun came up and people started to see it on the car we got a call,” Alkins said in a phone interview Saturday.

The leak was shut down, but with authorities unsure what substance was released from the underground pipe where the leak originated, the block remained closed, Alkins said.

“We are concerned it may be asbestos,” he said.

Because the substance was unknown, the incident was labeled a level 2 hazmat situation, which means a larger response, Alkins said. Hazmat situations are evaluated on a three-tier basis, with 3 being the highest.

The situation has since been downgraded and only hazmat technicians remained on scene for cleanup, Alkins said.

The area will remain shut down until the company is able to determine whether the debris is safe, he said.


Air samples collected at the scene tested negative for hazardous material, company spokeswoman Carrie Griffiths said.

As of Saturday evening, she could not say whether there was any asbestos in the air.

“As of now the air samples are negative, but we are continuing to monitor that,” Griffiths said in a phone interview.

The underground pipes operated by Veolia deliver heat and water to a range of buildings in the city, Griffiths said.

Portable boilers were brought in for the two buildings affected by the leak on Saturday, she said.

The company said it will have crews “working around the clock to restore the area to normal service.”

Lucas Phillips can be reached at lucas.phillips@globe.com.