COLUMBUS, Ohio – At a time when the American Gas Association, in the wake of a horrendous gas pipeline accident that killed eight people in San Bruno, Calif., is trying to reassure the public that gas pipelines are safe, Columbia Gas is trying to convince Ohio residents that taking 13 months to repair a leak is nothing unusual. The customer affected says Columbia took closer to three years.
People walking by Paul Hobbs' yard had long noticed the odor of gas.
But when inspectors from Columbia Gas measured levels outside his North Side home in January 2010, they concluded that it was safe.
So he dealt with the odor and the questions from curious passers-by.
Despite the stink, inspectors who returned to the home every few months reached the same conclusion as those before them.
Relief for Hobbs and his neighbors finally came this January, when the gas company replaced the leaky pipe connecting his home to a line near the road.
A company spokesman said the fix was within 15 months of notification, the longest companies are supposed to wait to fix a leaky gas pipe, according to federal regulations. Leaks considered safe typically don't get repaired until technicians attend to more hazardous ones.
"There are leaks out there that are a higher priority than these," spokesman Ken Stammen said."Our resources are not unlimited."
While Columbia claims it fixed the leak within the 15-month limit, Hobbs contends that the company knew about the leak for three years.
Further, Hobbs and his neighbors aren't happy that their yards were torn up in the process.
"They left the neighborhood trashed," he said of the repair technicians.