It’s not uncommon for natural gas lines to be vented as part of regular maintenance, and when that happens the odorant added to the gas often gives rise to concerns that there may be a widespread gas leak. Ironically, the odorant, which is added for safety reasons because natural gas is odorless, became the reason for numerous calls to Loudoun’s 911 emergency call center this morning.
Following inquiries by Loudoun County’s Fire and Rescue Department, the county and others, Chair Phyllis Randall issued a statement this afternoon on behalf of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
According to the statement, the venting of gas began this morning at 8:00 a.m. at the Dominion Transmission facilities near Cove Point Lane in Leesburg and off Bull Run Post Office Road in Fairfax County. The purpose of this venting involved purging natural gas from a segment of pipeline to allow for planned upgrades. Dominion first notified the county and some members of the public who live around the facilities on Friday, Sept. 23, which did not allow much time to alert the broader public about the potential for smelling the natural gas odorant. In addition, today’s weather contributed to the odor lingering longer than it would have on a clear day, and spreading.
Randall said she was disappointed with how Dominion handled the venting, and has asked company officials “to reevaluate their practices and procedures for this type of work in the future to avoid unnecessary alarm by the public. I have requested that Dominion consider weather forecasts when scheduling venting activities. I have also asked Dominion to provide the county, members of the public, and other stakeholders with more advanced notice so we can better anticipate the possibility of smelling of natural gas odorant, which may help to allay concerns in the future,” she added.
Dominion Transmission issued it’s own statement today, apologizing for the turn of events.
“Dominion (Gas) Transmission is aware that a number of residents in parts of Loudoun County have reported the smell of natural gas odorant. This is the result of scheduled venting that was announced last week that took place this morning. At no time was the public in any danger from the venting operation. Dominion apologizes for any concern or inconvenience caused by this event.”