|An Avista natural gas crew works
to safely connect two sections of
pipe in a trench.
Post by Debbie Simock
Today Avista and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) filed an agreement
that the company will pay a $200,000 fine because of a natural gas explosion and fire that injured two people in Odessa, Wash., in December 2008.
The results of independent investigations by UTC staff and Avista determined that a leak in a section of 2-inch gas distribution pipe was the source of the incident, with the leak being caused by a rock impingement on the pipe. The affected 2-inch pipe is a low-pressure distribution line that is significantly smaller than a high-pressure transmission pipeline.
The most important concern for us is the safety of the public and our employees, so thankfully incidents like the one in Odessa are very rare. To keep it that way, we have a number of programs and procedures in place to help maintain a system that is safe and reliable.
For example, every five years we conduct a leak survey on more than 11,000 miles of pipe. We do this by walking every mile of the system with sensitive gas detection equipment. If a problem is found, we fix it. To help ensure public safety and the integrity of our natural gas system, we’ll now be doing annual leak surveys on all of our pipes installed before 1987.
We’ll continue doing our part to deliver safe, reliable natural gas to you, but we can also use your help. The majority of natural gas incidents that happen on our system are caused by third-party dig-ins, so it’s important that you locate all underground natural gas and electric lines before starting any outdoor projects that involve digging. With winter here it may be a while before you start any outdoor projects, but all you need to do to schedule this service is call 811 two days before starting work.
As usual, we’d like to hear from you. So, e-mail the Avista Blog
and share your thoughts or questions with us. We guarantee we’ll get back with you.