Residents concerned about gas lines

September 14, 2010 9:04:07 PM PDT
The ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team has uncovered a network of gas pipelines snaking below yards and homes across the Triangle.Many homeowners are unaware that they may be sitting on a potential time bomb just like the residents of San Bruno, California.

Last week, a 30-inch pipe buried in a California subdivision leaked, then exploded and killed at least four people and destroyed 37 homes.

"I felt bad for what happened for what happened and for the people," Wake County resident Sabath Luyando said. "And then I started thinking, wait a second, I got a pipeline in my back yard."

Luyando lives in an old farm house in southern Wake County, about two miles from Wake Tech Community College.

He and a few others in his rural neighborhood live about 200 feet from a 24 inch high pressure gas transmission pipe. Utility crews buried it about a decade ago.

Bill Gilmore, the pipeline expert with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, says the gas line just outside Luyando's white picket fence is the Triangle's largest.

"Our large diameter, high pressure pipelines tend to be well out in the country," Gilmore said. "There are people living near them and they certainly need to be aware."

There's actually a gas line that runs through the piedmont area of the state that serves states from the Gulf of Mexico up to Connecticut.

It moves four times more natural gas than the California pipe which blew, but Gilmore says the hazard risks are relatively tiny.

"Every day most of us sit about six feet away from the equivalent of 40 pounds of TNT, it's called the gas tank on your car," Gilmore said.

Meanwhile, Luyando says the cardinal pipeline has been a good neighbor and he has not heard of any issues, but after the west coast explosion, he wonders.

"I supposed if there was a problem, everybody would know about it, right," Luyando said.

The utilities commission says the biggest reason for gas pipe breaks is a third party hitting the line when they dig.

They say the biggest message to the public is call the gas utilities before you dig and they will come out and mark the ground where the gas line is below.

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