About Natural Gas
The United States is the world leader in Natural Gas production. According to the EIA, 32% of the energy consumed in the United States comes from Natural Gas. With the abundance of natural gas in the U.S., there is a pipeline system of over 2 million miles that transports this energy throughout the country. Austell Gas owns its pipeline system of over 1,200 miles that delivers natural gas to over 59,000 customers within our service territory. Since 1954, Austell Gas System has safely operated this proven pipeline system due to its design, construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of the entire system along with evaluating and enhancing of our pipeline security. A large part of Natural Gas Safety comes from a superior Public Awareness Program that identifies and educates the affected public and key stakeholders of the presence of below/above ground natural gas pipelines and components that are key to supplying natural gas to our customers in a safe and effective manner. Our continuing Public Awareness Program will diligently work to inform both customers and non-customers of the presence of a natural gas pipeline system and how to avoid damaging the pipeline due to unsafe digging practices and what to do in case of a natural gas emergency.
Pipeline Purpose and Reliability
Natural gas is one of the safest, cleanest, and most efficient burning fuels when used correctly. Natural gas is commonly used for heating homes, water heating, cooking, grilling, clothes drying, and outdoor lighting just to name a few. Over the years, Austell Gas System has delivered exceptional service to meet the energy needs of our customers. Austell Gas values safety, service, and price to provide our customers the safest product, with the best service, at the lowest price possible. Austell Gas crews work diligently to maintain and preserve the integrity of our pipelines. There are multiple tasks our company performs daily to keep our pipeline properly maintained. Our crews perform Leakage Surveys, Atmospheric Corrosion checks, Cathodic Protection checks; as well as continuous system surveillance among other daily tasks performed. Proven pipeline integrity is due to these tasks as well as the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of our gas system. Austell Gas is committed to bringing a safe, reliable, well priced product to every customer within our system.
Hazard Awareness & Prevention Measures
The natural gas distribution system in the United States has the best safety record of any type of transportation system in the country. Natural gas is clean, convenient, and efficient, which makes it the popular energy choice. Like all forms of energy, however, it must be handled properly. Despite an excellent safety record, a gas leak caused by damage to a pipeline may pose a hazard and has the potential to ignite.
Austell Gas works diligently to operate our system safely and prevent incidents through a variety of measures including the following:
- Pipeline Integrity Management program
- Coordination with Georgia 811
- Design, construction, operations and maintenance standards
- Pipeline safety regulations
- Inspection procedures including leak survey and pipeline patrolling
- Workforce qualifications
- Pipeline markers
- Facility mapping
- Odorization & pressure monitoring
- Industry best practices
Leak Recognition & Response
Although pipelines are built with safety and reliability in mind, it is possible to have a natural gas leak inside or outside the home. The following three key senses will help you detect a gas leak.
- LOOK for blowing dirt, bubbling water or dry spots in moist areas. Also look for dying vegetation in an otherwise green environment.
- LISTEN for noises such as hissing, blowing, roaring or whistling near a gas line or natural gas appliance. ∙
- SMELL natural gas is colorless and odorless. Mercaptan is added to the natural gas to give it a rotten egg smell. This enables easier detection if a natural gas leak is present.
If a gas leak is detected, leave the premises immediately. Never try to find or stop a gas leak. Upon your exit, do not create any possible source of ignition, including using a telephone, turning off and on light switches, starting a car, lighting a lighter, etc. Always get everyone a safe distance from the possible leak.
- Call Austell Gas System IMMEDIATLEY at 770-948-1841, option 1 or 911 to report a gas leak to a live representative 24/7 from your cell phone or a neighboring house.
- Austell Gas will send a certified technician to properly make the area safe again. Do not reenter the area until a leak investigation has been conducted.
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 Georgia 811 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.
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.
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, which are non-hazardous by-products. However, incomplete combustion occurs when there is insufficient air available for complete burning or the fuel. The most dangerous by-product of incomplete combustion is carbon monoxide (CO). 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 the CO poisoning. The initial symptoms of low to moderate CO poisoning are similar to the flu.
- Headache, Nausea, Fatigue, and Shortness of breath. Higher levels of CO poisoning include: Vomiting, mental confusion, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and 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 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.