TYLER, TX (KLTV) - As of Monday night, the death toll stands at six from a massive gas pipeline explosion in California. The blast destroyed an entire neighborhood in San Bruno. The cause of this disaster remains unclear, but gas company officials claim the blown pipeline had been inspected just last year.
In East Texas, we are a major producer of natural gas and there are a lot of pipelines running underground.
Pipelines cover the nation online maps show that one of the most concentrated areas of pipelines in the nation run underneath East Texas. There are low pressure pipelines that run underneath homes and neighborhoods right here in East Texas. There are signs that mark where they are.
"Telling them that there is a pipeline in the vicinity and giving them an emergency number to call," said Bruce Faulkner, who owns several East Texas gas pipelines.
While the pipeline that exploded in California was a 30", high pressure line, Faulkner says the most natural gas lines in residential areas are small, low-pressure lines. Gas companies in Texas are required to follow regulations put in place by the Railroad Commission. Faulkner says pipelines in populated areas must be inspected once a year.
"That's testing of anything from doing leak surveys, patrols, valve maintenance, maintenance of solar panels, that sort of thing," said Faulkner.
The Railroad Commission says 76% of pipeline accidents are caused by third-party damage. This is when someone digs into a pipeline. The number two cause is corrosion or rust, followed by operator error and material failure.
Faulker says smell, heavy mist near the ground, discoloration of vegetation, and a hissing noise are all signs of a gas leak.
If you want to find out the exact location of pipelines near your home, click here.