PNM examines city gas lines

Mike Linn

In an effort to ensure safety, PNM Gas Company personnel spent Thursday probing gas lines throughout the city and found no new natural gas leaks.
Officials with the company said they will also search today for any leaks in the 88 miles of natural gas pipeline in Portales.
On Wednesday afternoon, city officials evacuated several homes in the block of North Avenue A and Olive Street after an underground pipeline ruptured, causing natural gas to seep above ground.
No one was hurt and residents were allowed to return to their homes two hours later.
“The good news is we haven’t detected any new leaks,” said William J. Real, senior vice president of public policy with PNM. “Right now it doesn’t appear that problem has happened twice. However, we would like to ask anybody who smells gas to call us at 950-1997 and we will come by their residence and look into the situation.”
The incident occurred after a faulty gauge read the natural gas pressure at a below normal level, officials said. A PNM employee turned up the pressure the meet norms, only to find out later the gauge was broken and reading pressure too low.
The rise in natural gas pressure caused an older steel pipe to rupture, Real said.
“The first pipes we surveyed today were the older, steel pipes,” said Frederick Bermudez, PNM director of corporate communications. “The leak survey is the best and safest measure we can do.”
Real said 10 percent of PNM’s underground pipes are steel; the remaining are (strong) plastic, and “virtually indestructible.”