Gas venting leads to school, road closures

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 17, 2012

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — An example of equipment working perfectly caused the closure of Shelby Junior High and portions of Van Dyke Avenue in Shelby Township Dec. 14.

At roughly 6:30 a.m., the report of a gas leak in the area of 23 Mile Road and Van Dyke caused Utica Community Schools to cancel classes at Shelby Junior High, located at 51700 Van Dyke Ave.

The report of a gas leak also led Shelby Township police to close portions of Van Dyke between 23 Mile and 24 Mile roads.

“The gas break lasted roughly 30 minutes to an hour,” Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers said. “And we closed off the road — nothing too big.”

While it was initially reported as a leak, Consumers Energy media contact Debra Dodd said it was actually outgassing from a line to relieve excess pressure.

“We have a city gate at that location,” Dodd said. “When gas is coming through the pipeline, it will come to the city gate, and (pressure) will be reduced, so it can be safely administered to homes and businesses.

“If one of those (pressure) anomalies occurs, a valve will automatically open and release the gas and let it vent safely to the atmosphere,” Dodd added. “It’s not something that happens very often, but when it does, that’s exactly how we want our system to function.”

Dodd did not know if there had been outgassing at the city gate near 23 Mile Road and Van Dyke before, but she said that residents should not refrain from reporting any possible leaks in the area just because of the presence of the gate.

“That’s always what we want our customers to do,” Dodd said of calling (800) 477-5050 at the first sign of any suspected gas leaks.