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Sunday, May 26, 2024

VNG Debuts New Technology Following Virginia Beach Tornado

(Virginia Natural Gas)

VIRGINIA BEACH — In the wake of the powerful EF-3 tornado that hit in Virginia Beach on April 30, Virginia Natural Gas deployed a vehicle equipped with advanced methane detection equipment to patrol impacted areas, it said.

“This leak detection method is more efficient and sensitive than traditional processes and allows emissions data to be collected at a speed and scale not previously possible, which is highly useful for areas affected by severe weather,” said Rus Hayslett, vice president of Operations at Virginia Natural Gas (VNG). “Following a storm of this magnitude, we want to ensure the community is safe and the integrity of our natural gas system is maintained, and this tool helps us do that most efficiently.” 

After multiple passes after the tornado, no leaks were found.

According to VNG, the vehicle is equipped with sensitive mobile natural gas leak detection technology and sensors capable of measuring methane in parts-per-billion levels, identifies and measures methane plumes in the air, maps their locations and helps prioritize the investigation of these potential leaks within the VNG system. 

Immediately following the tornado, VNG worked with first responders and dispatched crews to assess the area, responding to service outages due to structural damage. Crews reported no natural gas-related emergencies in the area; however, they did have to contend with downed debris on natural gas meters and broken service lines from uprooted trees, according to VNG. 

“After we made the area safe, there was still a lingering smell of natural gas. We utilized this mobile leak detection platform to double-check if there were other possible leaks coming from our system or elsewhere,” Hayslett said, noting the system is smart enough to know if the methane identified is from natural gas or other sources. 

As of Friday, VNG expected recovery and restoration activities to extend through the weekend, reminding customers to keep safety in mind: 

  • If you smell natural gas, immediately leave the premises and call 911. Then call VNG’s 24-hour emergency response line, 877-572-3342 once in a safe location. 
  • Use care when clearing fallen trees and other debris. 
  • Call VA811 and allow at least three full business days before digging roots, repairing fences or doing other work that requires digging to avoid damaging underground utility lines. VNG asks customers for patience and to wait for local utilities to mark the area with flags or paint, making it easier to dig safely. 

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