The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 2, 2012

Grant will help Athens expand gas-leak training facility


— The Athens Gas Department has received a $50,000 grant to expand its training facility known as Leak City.

Gas Department Manager Steve Carter said the grant will fund construction of liquid fire props for Hazmat training provided to fire departments and pipeline inspectors. The grant also will go toward improving the locator field by providing the latest technology such as the SmartBall, which can help locate underground pipelines.

The Technical Assistance Grant is through the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. This type grant was first authorized by the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002 to ensure communities are informed about the vital role of safety and reliability of pipeline operations.

The city applied for the grant in March.

“This grant goes a long way in achieving the national goal of providing superior and high quality training that Leak City is recognized for by local, state and federal regulators and Natural Gas Systems throughout the country,” Carter said.

Leak City is located on Sanderfer Road. Part of the training area resembles a subdivision with homes that are hooked to gas so firefighters and pipeline inspectors can do gas leak training in and around the structure.

There is another area with a confined space that is filled with smoke, and participants are required to safely remove a dummy from harm’s way. Another area allows an operator to release flames from pipelines, and firefighters have to battle the blaze.

Leak City also has classroom space for certification workshops.

“Leak City draws participants from across the country to Athens to learn how to safely work around gas pipelines and leaks,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “I am proud this grant will allow us to expand the facility and expand our training. This brings revenue to the city when participants stay in our hotels and shop in our city. It also ensures those in the pipeline industry and firefighters