Consumers Energy issues statement on safety initiatives following Royal Oak explosion

(WXYZ) - Consumers Energy released a statement Thursday to say that it is suspending all boring projects throughout the state following the explosion in Royal Oak that killed a man on February 27.

The utility company is also making additional moves in an effort to show that the company is committed to safety.

READ THE STATEMENT BELOW FROM CONSUMERS ENERGY

"The safety of our community, customers and employees remains our top priority, and our thoughts continue to be with the deceased victim's family and friends.  As we implement our comprehensive safety program in the affected Royal Oak community, our experts are standing ready 24/7 responding to questions and concerns from the community. 

In addition, we continue to be vigilant and proactive in our approach to keep the community safe by taking the following steps:

  • We have suspended all boring projects throughout the state. Employees and contractors working on our system are going through a detailed review and validation of our standard operating procedures. Upon completion, we will resume boring operations.
  • We have performed extensive gas safety testing in the area as residents returned to their homes on Friday and Saturday. 
  • Employees tested for the presence of gas in and around homes, made sure appliances were relit and operating, and pressure-tested the customer-owned fuel lines of each home to help allay residents' concerns. 
  • A team of employees met with residents and businesses in a wider area around the site, identifying any concerns and offering additional safety testing. 
  • We have reached out to the Royal Oak School District offering safety training and educational programs for students, teachers and administrators.

Throughout the year, Consumers Energy also conducts a number of ongoing, preventative safety measures:

  • Proactive approach to detect gas leaks along our pipeline systems throughout our service areas. 
  • Encourage citizens who smell "rotten egg" odorant to contact us from a safe location immediately at (800) 477-5050 to report the odor, as this is the number one defense against gas leaks.
  • Use specially-equipped trucks to detect natural gas particles in the area. These routes are driven on established routines and regular timetables. 
  • Conduct walking surveys using hand-held gas detection equipment. 
  • Consumers Energy pilots regularly fly over our gas pipeline system to perform visual inspections for safety and reliability. 

We also have a comprehensive Integrity Management Plan in place to maintain and evaluate our pipelines, as part of the federal Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002. We review the structural integrity of our pipelines using methods that include:

  • Running an electronic device inside the pipeline to transmit images and gathering data about the condition of the pipe;
  • Pressure testing pipelines using water and above-ground test instruments; and
  • If potential problems are indicated during these processes, we will excavate and examine the pipe and make repairs. 

Consumers Energy continues to fully cooperate with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities. We will provide more details on findings following the conclusion of the investigation."

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