Homeland Security Minute
A Different Kind of Threat
I have often talked about paying attention to the indicators around us to identify man-made threats. Identifying something is wrong is the first step, but even more important is taking action to negate or act on the possible threat.
Friday night last my wife was feeding the community cats in our front and back yards. She returned into the house and mentioned to me that she was smelling gas out front. I looked up with some doubt in my eyes and said I’d check it out. I went into the back yard, walked around and disturbed the cats at their dinner. I didn’t smell anything until just as I returned to the back door. There was the rather strong smell of mercaptan – the rotten egg smell gas companies add to natural gas as a safety measure.
I immediately told my wife to call the gas company and report a leak. I told her she was right about the gas smell, but since the smell was out back, it might be coming from one of the neighbors up wind. The Texas Gas Company arrived very quickly and began to search the area with their sniffing equipment. They checked the neighbor’s equipment on the left, the front of our house and then between my house and our neighbor on the right. Bingo, the sniffer equipment went crazy with alarms.
We were told not to open our windows, turn down the furnace and not use the gas stove. Very quickly more workers arrived and the survey of the area began. The leak was coming from a broken pipe under the sidewalk and not from the house gas meters.
The company folks worked passed midnight and corrected the problem to include drilling small holes in the pavement and yard to release trapped natural gas that had seeped into the soil around the break.
Some restoration work to the sidewalk still remains to be completed, but nothing happened. No explosion, no one getting ill, and the neighborhood remains unchanged. All because an anomaly was noticed, it was not ignored, and corrective action was taken by the right people.
A final reminder, if something seems out of wack or not right; take action.
CF “Buck” Hamilton, CPP, PSP
LtCol USMC (Ret)