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Decatur Utilities will use lasers in 2019 to detect natural gas leaks

Crews will use the Gas Trac LZ-30, a handheld leak detector.

Posted: Jan 2, 2019 1:57 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2019 2:00 PM

On Wednesday, Decatur Utilities announced that in 2019 crews in the Natural Gas Department will be using lasers to find possible natural gas leaks in areas that are difficult to reach, like glass windows.

Crews will use the Gas Trac LZ-30, a handheld leak detector. Decatur Utilities says this is methane-specific and provides fast, accurate readings from up to 100 feet. This is through "tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy" technology that detects methane gas, which is a primary component in natural gas.

“This is the latest evolution in gas detection technology,” said Jerry Parker, the measurement and compliance supervisor at DU, in a statement released on Wednesday. “Customers could potentially see our crews using this device in their area – and notice the laser beam as it passes through a window. This is part of the normal operation of the device and is not harmful.”

According to Decatur Utilities, signs of a possible natural gas leak are a strong odor that resembles that of rotten eggs, a loud hissing or roaring noise, dirt that has been disturbed or bubbles in standing water and isolated areas of dying vegetation.

If you suspect you have a leak, leave the area and call Decatur Utilities' emergency reporting line at 256-552-1400. If a fire or explosion happens, call 911. For safety purposes, customers should call 811 before digging on property.

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