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Sydney Metro excavator struck CBD gas main
Streets around Martin Place in Sydney have been declared a no go zone because of a gas leak.
A high-pressure gas leak, which has placed multiple CBD streets and Martin Place train station into lockdown, was ruptured by an excavator sub-contracted to work on the Sydney Metro rail project.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance on Saturday admitted the "very serious" incident occurred within the government site, more than 15 hours after Fire & Rescue NSW first established a 200-metre exclusion zone around the street-level gas main.
Castlereagh Street, Elizabeth Street and Phillip Street have been closed between Hunter and King streets since the leak began about 10.30pm on Friday, while Macquarie Street has reopened.
"Sydney Metro is going to have a new Martin Place station and as part of that, there's preliminary work that needs to be undertaken," Mr Constance told reporters.
"An excavator in the area has hit a high-pressure gas pipeline and as a result we've had a major incident."
The minister said he was not "going to get into the ins and the outs" of which company was responsible.
The leak emitted a strong smell and deafening hissing sound, and a number of commercial buildings were evacuated.
Police and Hazmat crews were brought in to assist.
Sydney Metro project director Tim Parker said the excavator is from a particular sub-contractor pre-approved by Jemena - the gas company with carriage of the pipe.
"When you're dealing with a high-pressure gas line, you need to have a special sub-contractor," Mr Parker said.
"Also, for Jemena, there is a spotter so you have someone in the field who's looking over what's happening so if anything occurs on the site, you can see.
"We had all that in place. But not withstanding that, unfortunately this incident occurred."
He labelled the incident "regrettable" and said they are working with SafeWork NSW to find out what happened.
According to a statement from Jemena issued on Saturday morning, repair works could take between 10 and 12 hours to complete, the gas pressure has been reduced "to a safe level" and no customers are without gas due to service diversions.
The company apologised to those affected and will issue a situation update later on Saturday.
The pipeline rupture is yet to be completely patched.
"They've been able to put a plug-type system in there which has stemmed the gas leak but not fully stopped it," FRNSW Superintendent Paul Johnstone told AAP.
All trains will continue to run on the City Circle and Eastern Suburbs line but won't stop at Martin Place, and local buses are being diverted.
Motorists and commuters are being asked to stay away from the area until further notice.
Originally published as Sydney Metro excavator struck CBD gas main