Important Safety Message Regarding Massachusetts Incident
Vermont Gas is a culture focused on safety. Our customers and community have an important role to play too. If you ever suspect there is a leak or smell gas – call 1-800-639-8081 right away. If you have a concern about your gas service at your home, we are here to address it immediately. You should not try to turn your gas meter off by yourself if you smell gas or have any concerns, call right away at 1-800-639-8081.
Reports from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other sources indicate that the system in the communities impacted in Massachusetts was a low-pressure system, reportedly cast-iron, that became over-pressurized, apparently pushing gas into buildings. NTSB is the investigator and is fully engaged. It will take time for the NTSB to perform their investigation and report out their findings.
There is still an intensive recovery effort underway and Vermont Gas is proud to be able to send a team to help. Columbia Gas has set November 19 as their goal for getting customers back on natural gas service. It appears they will rebuild approximately 48 miles of system as part of this effort. This is a very big undertaking. In the meantime Columbia is providing customers with emergency services, space heating and cooking appliances. Turning customers’ gas service back on will require its own intensive customer-by-customer effort. Columbia Gas has retained a Recovery Officer to lead the effort.
Vermont Gas is not connected in any way to the Columbia system. We do not have a cast-iron or low pressure system. Vermont Gas upgraded its entire distribution system many years ago. We have completed our removal of cast iron and bare steel. We have eliminated low pressure distribution. We started these upgrades in the 1980s and completed them almost 15 years ago. Our entire distribution system is now a medium-pressure system, which means that the natural gas is delivered to a meter at the house with a regulator that is the final pressure step down at every home. Our system is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by our gas control operations team. A material change in pressure triggers an alarm and an immediate response from our crew. We also conduct regular patrols of our system to search for leaks and respond appropriately.
Safety is, of course, our first priority in everything we do. We have a comprehensive system integrity and safety management program and a detailed emergency preparedness plan. We work regularly with first-responders and other stakeholders to communicate, collaborate, review and improve our safety and emergency preparedness. We have a strong public safety awareness program that we communicate through a variety of communication channels.