Following the tragic explosion in Royal Oak on Feb. 27, Consumers Energy has been conducting a thorough investigation, including employee interviews, system inspection and policy review. Based on our findings through March 15, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action, including terminations for failure to follow established policies and procedures.
We take our responsibility to protect our communities, customers and employees very seriously and are committed to a zero tolerance policy when it comes to their safety. With this commitment in mind, we continue to be vigilant and proactive in taking steps to reassure the public:
- We have completed our detailed review and validation of standard operating procedures with employees and contractors working on our system. Boring operations will fully resume the week of March 18
- Our experts continue to be available to meet with residents and businesses in a wider area around the site, identifying any concerns and offering additional safety testing.
Throughout the year, Consumers Energy also conducts a number of ongoing, preventative safety measures:
- Proactive approach to detect gas leaks along our pipeline systems throughout our service areas.
- Encourage citizens who smell “rotten egg” odorant to contact us from a safe location immediately at (800) 477-5050 to report the odor, as this is the number one defense against gas leaks.
- Use specially-equipped trucks to detect natural gas particles in the area. These routes are driven on established routines and regular timetables.
- Conduct walking surveys using hand-held gas detection equipment.
- Pilots regularly fly over our gas pipeline transmission system to perform visual inspections for safety and reliability.
We also have a comprehensive Integrity Management Plan in place to maintain and evaluate our pipelines, as part of the federal Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002. We review the structural integrity of our pipelines using methods that include:
- Running an electronic device inside the pipeline to transmit images and gathering data about the condition of the pipe;
- Pressure testing pipelines using water and above-ground test instruments; and
- Excavating pipes and making repairs if potential problems are indicated during these processes.
The safety of our communities, customers and employees remains Consumers Energy’s top priority, and our thoughts continue to be with the deceased victim’s family and friends.
We are fully cooperating with the Michigan Public Service Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities, and will provide more details on our findings following the conclusion of the investigation.