Natural gas is one of the world’s major energy sources.
Due to its relatively low cost and abundance, approximately 25% of energy used in the United States comes from natural gas. Since 1954, Austell Natural Gas System has provided gas service to our customers. In our service area, underground pipelines provide natural gas service to homes, businesses, industries, and schools. Operating a safe natural gas system has been significantly important to us here at Austell Gas and our commitment to safety is reflected in the construction, operation, and maintenance of our entire system. We strive to deliver a superior public awareness program by educating the affected public and key stakeholders of the presence of buried and aboveground natural gas pipelines and components. We work diligently to ensure that the public is well informed on how to avoid damage to our pipeline system and what to do in case of a gas emergency.
Pipeline Purpose and Reliability
Over the years, Austell Gas System has delivered exceptional natural gas service to meet the energy needs of our customers. Austell Gas System receives natural gas from our supplier at three separately located city gate stations. This received natural gas then travels through our well maintained network of pressure regulating equipment, mains, service lines, and meters until it reaches the end user. Austell Gas operates a safe and secure natural gas system. Proven pipeline integrity is due to the design, construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of our entire natural gas system along with evaluating and enhancing our pipeline security.
Hazard Awareness & Prevention Measures
Most natural gas pipelines are buried underground not only for safety reasons, but also to protect them from weather and to provide reliable service. Despite the excellent safety record of the natural gas industry, sometimes pipeline failures do occur due to line rupture, corrosion, material failure, or other causes such as, digging into a pipeline. Natural gas is lighter than air, in the open atmosphere gas rises and dissipates into the air. In a closed area, natural gas rises to the highest level and may accumulate. Natural gas is combustible and can be dangerous. Potential hazards from escaping gas when exposed to an ignition source are fire and/or explosion. Additionally, natural gas can displace oxygen in a confined space causing asphyxiation.
Here at Austell Gas, we work diligently to operate our system safely and prevent incidents through a variety of measures including the following:
Pipeline Integrity Management Program
Coordination with the Utilities Protection Center
Design, construction, operations, and maintenance standards
Pipeline safety regulations
Industry best practices
Take special care when excavating in the tolerance zone by hand digging, or using other non-intrusive methods. The tolerance zone is the width of the pipe and 18 inches on either side of the outside edge of the pipe.
Austell Gas System welcomes your questions regarding natural gas safety. Please feel free to contact us at 770-948-1841 or stop by our office during regular business hours: Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Leak Recognition & Response
Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbon gases, primarily methane that has certain physical qualities that control the way it behaves. Natural gas is colorless, odorless, and lighter than air. An odorant is added to natural gas to give it a recognizable smell. This odor is commonly referred to a “rotten egg” smell.
If you detect faint whiffs of this odor:
Investigate. If possible “follow your nose” to the source. It may be only a pilot that is out, or a burner valve partially turned on… something easily and safely corrected. If the source of gas cannot be located or if the odor persists, call Austell Gas for assistance at 770-948-1841, option “1”.
Any situation involving gas facilities or operations that could possibly endanger human life, cause damage to property, or disrupt normal service to customers is considered an emergency. The following are potential hazards you should know:
Pipeline leak where uncontrolled gas is escaping into the atmosphere
Gas migrating into a home or building from an outside leak
Gas leak inside a home or building
The greatest risk to underground pipelines is accidental damage during excavation. The three key ways that may indicate a natural gas leak are:
Sight: look for blowing dirt, bubbling water, dry spots in moist areas, dead or dying vegetation in an otherwise green environment, or fire coming from the ground. Unusual Sound: listen for any unusual noise like a hissing, blowing, roaring, or whistling sound. Smell: if that noticeable “rotten egg” smell is rising intensely, or seems to be everywhere: Outdoors: Immediately leave the area and call Austell Gas System at 770-948-1841, option “1”. Indoors: Immediately leave the premises. . .
Do not create any source of possible ignition by using a telephone or cell phone, striking a match, lighting a lighter, turning on or off an electric light, appliance, or other device.
Do not re-enter the premise/area until a leak investigation has been conducted; only emergency personnel should enter the premise/area. Call Austell Gas System from a safe location at 770-948-1841, option “1”. Call 911 if conditions warrant!
Austell Gas System maintains an ongoing working relationship with local emergency response personnel so that an effective and professional response is given to all gas related emergencies.
Damage Prevention/One Call
The Georgia Dig Law requires both professional excavators and homeowners to have utility lines marked before performing any mechanized digging, demolition, or working within 10 feet of overhead power lines. Call 811 even if you plan to manually dig. By knowing where underground utility lines are buried before digging will help protect you from injury and/or expense.
Calling the Utilities Protection Center before digging is a service free of charge. Call at least 48 hours but no more than 10 working days, excluding weekends and legal holidays before starting your digging project. Calling 811 starts the process to get your underground utility lines marked.
The single greatest cause of accidents regarding natural gas pipelines is digging by third party excavators. Third Party refers to those other than the pipeline operator. Please report any suspected signs of damage to our pipeline. If you strike a natural gas pipeline, please immediately notify us even if the damage seems to be minor, such as a scrape or dent.
Safety is for everyone. Please watch for markers indicating where natural gas pipelines are located and always:
CALL BEFORE YOU DIG
1-800-282-7411 or 811
When a natural gas appliance is properly operating, complete combustion safely burns the gas. Complete combustion produces carbon dioxide and water vapor, non-hazardous by-products. However, incomplete combustion occurs when there is insufficient air available for complete burning of the fuel. The most dangerous by-product of incomplete combustion is carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, poisonous gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels such as, coal, wood, oil, kerosene, charcoal, propane and natural gas. Because CO is undetectable to the human senses, a person may not know that they are being exposed to CO poisoning. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu. They include:
Shortness of breath
Higher levels of CO poisoning include:
Loss of muscular coordination
Too much inhaled CO can be fatal
How to prevent CO poisoning:
Appliances should be installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local codes.
At the beginning of every heating season, have your heating system and other fuel burning appliances professionally inspected and serviced by a HVAC dealer or licensed plumber.
Install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home that will sound when potentially dangerous levels of CO are detected.
If any member of your household is experiencing symptoms of CO poisoning, immediately get them out of the house and seek medical attention. If you suspect carbon monoxide, play it safe and get fresh air immediately. Austell Gas System personnel are available at all times to perform an investigation. Please call 770-948-1841, option “1”.
Flexible corrugated metal gas connectors are used to attach gas appliances such as gas furnaces, ranges, water heaters, and clothes dryers to gas supply lines and should not be used as a substitute for gas piping. Two or more connectors should not be joined together neither should they be installed through walls, floors, cabinets, etc.
Some older, uncoated brass connectors can possibly be a safety hazard. This is due to corrosion or breakage causing a gas leak. Moving an appliance can cause failure of one of these older weaker flexible connectors. It is recommended that these older connectors be immediately replaced.
Excess Flow Valve Notice
Excess Flow Valves (EFV’s) are mechanical shut-off devices that can be installed in the natural gas pipe running to the gas meter at your property (the service line). An EFV is designed to shut off MOST of the flow of natural gas automatically if the service line breaks, for example, by an excavation accident. Stopping the flow of gas from a broken service line significantly reduces the risk of natural gas fire, explosion, personal injury and/or property damage.
You may request that Austell Gas System install an excess flow valve on the service line to your property.
If you notify Austell Gas that you want an EFV, we will contact you to discuss your specific situation and the cost of installation and maintenance. EFV’s cannot be installed on some service lines due to high gas flow, low pressure or other factors. If you request an EFV, Austell Gas will inform you if your service line can accommodate an EFV.
If an EFV can be installed on your service line and you choose to have this done, Austell Gas will set up a mutually agreeable date to install an EFV on your service line and the applicable charge (payment) will be required at that time.
If it becomes necessary to maintain or replace the EFV on your service line applicable other charges may apply.
What is the tolerance zone?
The tolerance, or buffer zone, is 18 inches (effective July 1st, 2014) on either side of the outer edge of the facility. Please try not dig within the tolerance zone. However, if you have to dig within the buffer zone, follow these guidelines:
Do not use picks or mattocks.
When using a shovel, keep face of blade parallel to and pointing away from the “flag line.”
When using posthole diggers, keep the opening between blades pointing in the same direction as the utility lines.
In hard compacted soils, pothole to the side of the locate marks and collapse the soil into the hole while digging towards the marks.