13 Investigates


Gas lines installed through sewer pipes pose explosive danger

Posted at 4:44 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-10 13:45:15-05

It is hard to get anything past John Melanson, a retired GE engineer who spent his career testing missile components.

Recently, he noticed a lot of work occurring in front of his home near Horizon Drive and US 95.

"And they marked all the sidewalks, they marked all utilities, the water, electric, the gas lines," explained Melanson.

For the better part of a month, Melanson says Southwest Gas workers have been digging up his street. There are clearly marked yellow lines for gas lines, blue for water lines, and white for electrical lines. There are also temporary plates to cover up the work that has gone on underground.

"It scares me you know," said Melanson, pointing to a recent notice he got in his Southwest Gas bill.

The notice says natural gas utility companies have discovered instances where gas lines were unintentionally installed through sewer pipes, also known as cross bores.

The danger exists if a rooter or other mechanic device is used to clear blockages in the sewer line. If the gas line is fractured, it could send natural gas bubbling up through the toilet bowl, or other pipes in a home, according to Southwest Gas.

A buildup of natural gas, combined with an ignition source, could result in an explosion, experts warn.

A Southwest Gas spokesperson confirms to Contact 13, cross bores are in an issue in Nevada and have caused damaged before. 

It is unclear which parts of the valley are most affected.

The spokesperson added:

"Our research, data and investigations show this kind of damage has been minimal in Nevada."

In any event, Southwest Gas warns, if a rooter or other mechanical device is used to clear out the sewer lines, watch for bubbles in the toilet bowl afterward.

If the odor of natural gas is detected, leave immediately and call 911.

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