- Posted February 14, 2013 by
Natural Gas Dangers
AGL is replacing 28 miles of old pipeline with new 24-inch diameter welded steel pipe. As part of this replacement project, it quietly obtained residential acreage in the middle of a residential area for construction staging and the eventual placement of a gas regulator station. Questions about the actual size and function of this station have gone unanswered by AGL, but residents who have researched the issue believe that it is a sizeable station with an incoming line pressure of 720 psi.
Given that the proposed station is mere yards from their doors and in the major flight path of a regional airport, residents are justifiably concerned. However, all efforts to gain information from AGL have been ignored. Instead, using its considerable PR talent and experience in managing public response and objection, AGL has settled upon a “divide and conquer” tactic to dilute community reaction and cohesion by planning and scheduling a community open house with a format that is intended to prevent a concerted effort by residents to obtain honest answers.
Serious, costly, and life-threatening incidents involving gas distribution pipelines are a fact of life across the country, and they are increasing with frightening regularity. The 2010 explosion in San Bruno, California, destroyed 38 homes, damaged 70 homes and 74 vehicles, killed 8 people, and injured scores of others (see video). The Department of Homeland Security considers these natural gas installations to be targets of domestic and/or foreign terrorists, either by physical attack or cyber-terrorism.
Despite AGL’s denials to the contrary, the planned regulator station in the middle of a residential area and close to many homes, but distant from the kind of response services that could react to and control an incident, is enormously dangerous. Although supportive of the community efforts, local and state legislators have no authority over Atlanta Gas Light. The Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) oversees its actions. Recent contact with the GPSC indicates that Atlanta Gas Light has also failed to respond completely to questions posed to it by the GPSC officials.
AGL claims to respect the public trust, but in actuality, it answers to it shareholders, and its actions represent efforts to obtain the greatest economies during construction that it is able to achieve, often at the expense of residents powerless to object. While this particular instance of disregard for public safety and the rights of residents is local, it is representative of the callous abuse of power and the errant application of eminent domain that is occurring across the country by natural gas utilities. New federal and local regulations are required in order to better control the placement of dangerous natural gas installations.