Monday, September 13, 2010

Natural Gas Safety

In the wake of a large natural gas explosion in a San Bruno, California neighborhood last Thursday, we wanted to share some information with you.

• Because MLGW does not drill for gas, the utility purchases natural gas from transmission companies that deliver the fuel to city gate stations.

• At these facilities, natural gas is measured and sold, pressure is adjusted to match the distribution system, and a chemical odorant is added.

• MLGW has about 316,000 gas customers. Most of our customers use natural gas to heat their homes in the winter.

• We have 181 miles of gas transmission pipeline in our system throughout Shelby County. Most of this (about 96 miles) is in rural areas.

• While MLGW has not experienced an incident in a residential area such as yesterday’s explosion in San Bruno, we will closely monitor the results of the investigation into the San Bruno gas explosion in order to determine if there is anything we can learn from this incident as it relates to our system.

• MLGW did experience an explosion at its Ridgeway gate station in 1987 when lightning struck the facility. However, this occurred in a rural area and no one was injured.

• In situations like the one in California, it is critical to determine the root cause of the incident. This allows the utility to take the necessary actions to reduce the probability of this happening again. However, it's important to remember that these types of incidents are very rare.

• MLGW and other gas utilities are routinely subjected to rigorous inspection, maintenance and oversight within the company and at the federal and state level. This includes periodic inspections and repairs as necessary.

• If you smell a strong odor of natural gas in or near your home, you should immediately call MLGW's 24-hour Emergency Line, 528-4465. If possible, call from another location, such as a neighbor's home, and do not re-enter your home until an MLGW representative has advised you that you can do so safely. Also remember: do not turn lights or other electrical appliances on or off, or use matches.

• Homeowners or contractors who are planning any type of excavation or digging should first call Tennessee’s One Call hotline at 811. MLGW will then dispatch a professional locating crew to mark the approximate location of your lines.

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