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Questar Gas conducts gas emergency drill

Grant Neath, with Questar Gas operations, uses gas-detection equipment to pinpoint the location of a gas leak after Terrill Rasmussen, also with Questar Gas operations, punches a hole in the ground.

When a Questar Gas employee responded to a Price resident's call about a gas leak last week, the employee was surprised when a Questar Gas system engineer answered the door and told the employee he was now participating in a company disaster-response exercise.

Other company officials were evaluating the employee's response and actions to ensure that proper procedures were being followed. Since there was no actual gas leak, gas-detection equipment wouldn't provide any measurements, so a training employee would call out numbers to simulate what might show up on the display monitor. This helped evaluators determine how accurately and quickly the employee could pinpoint the simulated leak source.

As the scenario became more complex, other area employees were dispatched to the scene. It wasn't until these employees arrived that they realized they were being evaluated on their response time, knowledge and performance.

"It may sound like a workplace prank, but we take these simulated disasters seriously and our employees know it," said Tom Farlaino, Questar Gas operations supervisor, Price. "This scenario included two major events: the first one, which started out as a simple gas leak call, escalated to a point that required several employees in Price to respond.  An hour later, the scenario called for an unrelated problem where pressure in a main line resulted in loss of service to 6,000 customers.

This part of the exercise allowed the company to evaluate its engineering and operations personnel in Salt Lake City to determine how quickly they could assist us with the problem."

Questar Gas conducts these types of exercises throughout its service areas in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. The company has more than 25,000 miles of buried pipelines and it pointed out that the best way to avoid gas leaks is for people to call 811 before they dig so that lines can be marked and avoided. The company also reminds residents to report gas odors immediately. Natural gas does not have an odor so the company adds a pungent odorant to help people know if there's a problem. Customers who do not know this smell can contact Questar Gas at 800-323-5517 and request a scratch and sniff brochure titled "Here's a smell you should know well."

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