King Street businesses hurt by second gas leak

By Sheldon Dutes  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The gas leak that closed several downtown businesses Monday afternoon has been repaired, but hurt some area stores in the process.

The Ansco Company broke a gas line while doing construction work in front of the East Shore Athletic Club on Wentworth Street. On June 18, the company hit a gas line in the same area.

By noon crews had the intersection of King and Wentworth Streets barricaded down to St. Phillips Street.

The streets remained close for several hours while crews worked to fix the gas leak, which frustrated small business owners like Sermet Aslan.

"I'm getting hurt. We're all getting hurt on King Street right now, but we're not supposed to. I didn't do anything to deserve this," Sermet said.

Aslan owns Sermet's Corner, a popular King Street staple for more than 15 years. Just as he was getting ready for the lunch rush he noticed some commotion outside of his restaurant.

"I had this uneasy feeling like 'Oh, no. Not again'," Aslan said.

Not only was Aslan closed for lunch, but he was forced to send some of his employees home because business was at a standstill.

"It's very deadly for small businesses like me because one bad day- a real bad day- makes a bad week. A bad week could lead to a bad month," he said.

Across the street at Biton Clothing Company workers also felt the sting of the gas leak's closed streets.

"We had to send most of our employees home, which is bad for them because they need the hours," said Sales Associate Elizabeth Wilson.

Although the businesses understand the importance of blocking streets until the gas leak is fixed, most said they were frustrated because it has happened twice in the same area.

"We don't want it happening anymore. I don't see why it keeps happening," Wilson said, "It's really frustrating. It's the summer, it's supposed to be a good season for us. If it keeps happening, we're not going to get the money we need."

Aslan said he hopes there will be some accountability for Monday's leak.

"There needs to be some teaching. These people need to be taught something and need to have some kind of consequences so next time they won't be too casual about it," Aslan said.

According to a spokesperson for the Ansco Company, the gas leaks are still under investigation.

The City of Charleston is reviewing permits to see if all of the work was properly permitted and will see if any actions can be taken.

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