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Noise, odor from regulator station causes stir, but poses no danger, officials said


'It just kept venting'



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October 20, 2010 - The Consumer's Energy regulator station near Broadway and Elizabeth did what it was designed to do on Monday evening.

But then it kept going.

The loud chugging noise went on for nearly an hour, and the smell in the air was heavy and unmistakable: Natural gas.

"The regulator stations are designed so if an over-pressure situation occurres it has a way to vent and relive the extra gas," said Debra Dodd, Consumer's Energy spokesperson, noting the gas vents to the atmosphere and dissipates. "We had a worker go out there, but he couldn't immediately figure out what was going on – it just kept venting, even after the pressure went down."

Yhe station was shut down Dodd said, noting crews were due back in the village Tuesday to work on the problem.

"It's likely a maintenance or repair issue," she said. "It could be a build-up of fluid or oil in the pipes that needs to be cleaned out."

Some residents reported smelling the gas as far away as Hollywood Market.

"Natural gas has no odor of it's own," said Dodd. "The smell is strong; we make it strong on purpose so people are aware of it."

Dodd said the situation wasn't likely to cause a safety issue, but noted people can call Consumer's Energy with any concerns.

"We're certainly willing to come out and check things out," she said, adding it wasn't likely any service would be interrupted as a result of the pending work.

According to Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh, the current station was built around 1985 after speeding car thieves slammed into the previous building and destroyed it.

Narsh said the venting "always happens this time of year."

"On cold nights everyone turns up their thermostats," he said. "By morning the gas demand lessens and the extra pressure needs to be released."

But, he said, residents, business owners and others should never assume the situation is safe if they smell natural gas.

"Always ask questions," Narsh said.

The situation generated numerous comments on the Review's Facebook page.

"I've lived here over 20 years, ten in the village, and have never heard of this," commented Peggy Boggs.

But Birgit McQuiston said it want the first time she heard the commotion.

"Sometimes it happens a couple of times a year," she said. "Most frustrating today because it did its thing shortly after the crew that had been working on it all day had gone home! And yeah, smelly, too."

- Megan Collier contributed to this report

Lake Orion Review Editor
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