Last week, ahuge gas explosion in San Bruno killed four people, injured over 60, anddestroyed dozens of homes. The explosion was caused by the rupture of anunderground gas pipe. The pipe had been installed in 1956, had a long weldedseam, and could have corroded over the years.
Pipelines are running underground across the country –approximately 2 ½ million miles of pipeline. Many of the pipelines are old. Sohow do we know that they are safe?
According to experts, most pipelines do not need to beinspected – only those which are near large populations or natural resources.Only about 7 percent of major lines run near neighborhoods. In addition,utility companies are required to clearly mark pipelines and to notifyresidents about them.
If you are worried about a gas leak in your neighborhood,there are some steps you can take. Of course, be alert for a smell. Natural gasdoes not have an odor, but frequently utility companies will add an odor inorder to help detect leaks. It may be a rotten egg smell. Listen for a hissingsound. Also, look for a cloud or fog, grass or other vegetation that’s dyingfor no apparent reason, or bubbles in standing water, which can all be signs ofa leak.
If for some reason you do suspect a leak, leave your houseimmediately. Do not turn any lights or appliances on or off or use a phone, oreven start your car – all of those actions can create a spark.