Washington, D.C. – Safety is the top priority for the American Gas Association (AGA) and its member companies. Our hearts go out to those that have been affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Natural gas utilities throughout the country are working to help these communities with their rebuilding efforts.
American Gas Association members participate in a mutual assistance program for unprecedented disasters requiring the dedication of response, recovery and restoration resources outside the limits of existing local, state and regional mutual assistance programs. In preparation for Hurricane Sandy, and in its aftermath, more than twenty natural gas utilities have held daily calls to offer assistance and guidance to utilities and safety officials in the communities where natural gas service has been interrupted.
In New Jersey alone, there are more than 400 personnel on the ground, including crews from eight other natural gas utilities from surrounding areas. AGA staff has worked closely with the Northeast Gas Association to coordinate utility assistance to companies in need and has been in constant contact with the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and other federal and local regulators.
Clean natural gas provides one-fourth of the nation’s energy. This abundant, domestic resource is the dominant source of energy for heat and hot water in residences and businesses across this country. The natural gas industry operates over 2.4 million miles of pipelines – the largest and safest energy delivery system in the world. Our members work with public officials, emergency responders, excavators, consumers, safety advocates and members of the public to continue to improve the industry’s longstanding record of providing natural gas service safely and effectively to more than 177 million Americans.
America’s natural gas utilities are a leading voice for safety in the pipeline industry. Our “Commitment to Enhancing Safety,” released in May, details actions that are being addressed by AGA or individual operators that go above and beyond current pipeline regulations. The industry has put in place a number of safeguards to help better detect a potential natural gas leak. For instance, utilities odorize natural gas with Mercaptan — which smells similar to rotten eggs — in order to provide an added layer of safety for leak detection purposes. In addition, all natural gas pipeline operators are required to develop and implement a pipeline safety public awareness program to help educate the public in the vicinity of a pipeline, as well as state and local emergency response personnel, public officials and excavators.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Program and the U.S. Fire Administration have provided these tips for consumers during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.