Town Talk: Natural gas leak survey starting soon

The New Ulm Public Utilities Gas Department will be starting our annual leak survey soon. This leak survey is required by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 192.723.

The business section of New Ulm is surveyed every year and the residential areas are surveyed not less than every three years as required by the regulation. The survey is conducted by Gas Department employees that have passed an Operator Qualification Training test that is required to perform this survey. It includes training in the different leak detection equipment and observing vegetation and soil changes.

Leaks on the pipeline can be caused in many ways. The steel pipe in our pipeline has a protective coating on it to prevent rust from forming. If this coating is damaged by someone and not reported to us, it can cause the pipe to rust and cause a leak. It is very important that if you are digging around our gas system that you inform us about any damage to the pipe no matter how small as this can cause a major problem in the future.

We use several different types of detection instruments to find natural gas. Some instruments are mounted on vehicles and then driven over our gas mains in alleys and boulevards. When the instrument indicates the presence of natural gas, that location is inspected to see where the gas is coming from. To check the service lines going to homes and businesses the technician carries a detection instrument and walks the route of the service line checking along the way for any possible leaks. Once the technician reaches the end of the service, the meter set is then checked for leaks and signs of corrosion. If any leak is found it is repaired as soon as possible. We may need to enter the building to turn off and relight the appliances. In that case a card is left asking the occupant to call and schedule an appointment to make repairs. Only small nuisance leaks that will not get bigger over time would not be repaired immediately. Your safety is our primary concern.

We are also required under CFR 192.616 to have a Public Awareness and Education Program. Part of this program requires us to conduct a telephone survey. This survey involves a statistical sample of our gas customers plus an equal number of non-customers. Non-customers are included in this survey as they may live in an area near a gas distribution pipeline. Blue Otter Solutions will be conducting the survey for New Ulm this year. We will notify the public prior to this next survey by putting an announcement in The Journal and on KNUJ radio. We anticipate this survey to be conducted this summer. Please help us to promote public safety and cooperate in this phone survey. Thank you and have a safe summer.

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to