Alagasco will be replacing cast iron gas pipes with plastic gas pipes in the Marks Village community. The project is expected to start later this week and continue until March 2014.
Following the Dec. 17 explosion that killed one resident, Alagasco moved this year’s leak survey—which is conducted every two years as routine maintenance— to January, so the company could discover and address any existing leaks within the system. The company’s decision to accelerate the pipe replacement project is a result of the data collected from the survey.
“We conduct leak surveys all over our system and all over the city and we’ve conducted a survey out here and we did find some leaks,” said Reggie Johnson, liaison for Algasco. “We’ve conducted surveys in other areas. That’s what we do with our system to make sure the public is safe. After we did perform a survey we determined that we were going to go ahead and replace the pipelines in this area.”
Survey results and personnel reports are the determining factor for these projects.
“In addition to performing surveys, we take our field personnel information that we get from them combined with the two reports,” Johnson said. “That’s what determines when we do replacement projects.”
The upcoming project will replace four miles of pipe in the community and will start with the street pipelines that run along and underneath the streets. The method that will be used in this process will not cause any disruption to the normal function of the neighborhood.
“There’s going to be very minimal disturbance,” Johnson said, “What they’re going to use is a process called directional boring, and directional boring is a process where they can draw a hole using a machine and a camera to go underground with this device that bores a hole underground without doing a lot of excavation. Then they slide the pipe through that hole. There will be some excavation but not the normal process with a big open ditch coming through every person’s yard. So that’s done to cut down on excavation and it’s a much faster process and safer to do it that way.”
Street pipeline replacement will be followed by replacement of service pipelines that run from the street pipelines to residents, after which the gas will be redirected from the old pipelines to the new ones. Any needed yard restoration will be done after construction is complete.
This process will strictly adhere to all regulations.
“We follow all the federal guidelines for pipeline replacement— DLT, the Alabama Public Service Commission. We do things within the regulatory guidelines so far as replacing pipe so it falls within those scopes in what we’re doing.”
The pipe replacement project should not be a concern for residents, said Johnson, who has 35 years of experience in the gas business.
“It’s nothing for the residents to be alarmed about. I’m here on site if they have any concerns about gas issues. They can come talk to me. I can put them at ease if they have any questions relating to gas, if they have any concerns or issues they want to talk about.”
If residents have questions about home appliances or anything gas related, they should be reported directly to Alagasco, Johnson stressed, so the company can address the issue.
“We’ve been going out checking the customers’ appliances, checking the pipe system going into the residences and evaluating everything and letting them know that everything is safe,” he said. “There is nothing for them to be concerned about.”
Residents should not rely on rumors and instead call Alagasco directly. Anytime a call is made it is recorded in Alagasco’s dispatch area as is required by the Alabama Public Service Commission.
“If the residents have concerns as it relates to gas safety, the best way to get those questions answered is to come out and actually talk to us about it,” Johnson said. “We don’t know they’re having a problem if they don’t contact us. So they should contact us and we can put their minds at rest by coming out and meeting with them and answering their questions.”
If residents smell gas in their home or in a neighboring home, they should leave the area immediately and call Alagasco at 1-800-292-4008.