Work on pipeline led to odor of gas across region

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Maintenance performed on a gas pipe line not owned or operated by National Grid caused several reports of an odor of gas throughout Oneida County.

Volunteer and area city fire departments responded to numerous calls Sunday morning for reports of an outside gas odor. The majority of the calls and responses came from the New Hartford area, with calls also stretching into Paris, Sauquoit, Westmoreland, Clark Mills and even Rome.

"National Grid completed an investigation into a series of multiple gas odor calls yesterday in the area of New Hartford, and no irregularities were detected on our system,” said National Grid Spokeswoman Virginia Limmiatis.

The investigation revealed that a non-National Grid pipeline company — Tennessee Pipeline — performed maintenance on their pipeline, releasing some natural gas into the air, said Limmiatis.

According to a statement this morning by Oneida County officials, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline had resumed scheduled repairs in West Winfield late this morning, and were set to wrap up today's work by roughly 3 p.m. This work is a continuation of what occurred Sunday and entails a purging of its lines.

As part of the work that occurred yesterday, residents in several areas of the region reported smelling what they believed to be a natural gas leak. The smell was a byproduct of the purging process and does not pose any immediate danger to the public.

Should residents have any concerns about natural gas leaks not associated with this repair work, they are instructed to call 911 who will dispatch local first responders to investigate.

The smell of mercaptan, which has an aroma similar to rotten eggs, is added to natural gas so its presence can be detected, as natural gas is colorless and odorless. If customers smell gas, National Grid reminds them of the following safety tips, including calling the emergency gas phone number with any concerns regarding gas safety:

• From a safe area, call 911 and National Grid – available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-892-2345.

• Do not smoke or operate electrical switches or appliances. These items may produce a spark that might ignite the gas and cause an explosion.

• Do not assume someone else will report the condition. Provide the exact location, including cross streets. Let National Grid crews know if sewer construction or digging activities are going on in the area. 

• Use Your Senses: gas leak is often recognized by smell, sight or sound.

• Smell: Natural gas is colorless and odorless. A distinctive, pungent odor similar to rotten eggs is added so that you’ll recognize it quickly.

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