Yellow X

A painted yellow “x” marks a leak in an underground natural gas service line in Denton.

It’s marking a gas leak, likely in your service line. If Atmos hasn’t already hung a tag on your front door specifying a date for a repair, it’s coming soon.

Atmos Energy recently finished a special check of its system in the city, said John Manganilla, manager of public affairs for the Mid-Tex division of the company. A car with special sniffing equipment traveled every city street where Atmos has service, as many as six times, to pinpoint any leaks. Manganilla told the City Council on Tuesday afternoon that the check of Denton’s system was finished last month.

Previous “sniffers” only measured system leaks in parts per million. The new equipment is far more sensitive and measures to parts per billion, Manganilla said. Now, the company can even pinpoint leaks occurring in service lines beyond the meter, where a customer is responsible for the lines. In other words, some residents may already have been notified of leaks that their plumber needs to repair.

The utility has been under considerable public pressure to upgrade its system, particularly after a home in northern Dallas exploded in February 2018, killing a 12-year-old girl. Atmos officials told city leaders they didn’t believe that the company had any cast iron pipe left in Denton. 

When Atmos is called upon to make repairs, or move lines for street construction projects, crews were typically replacing steel lines with new plastic pipe, Manganilla said. The remaining steel lines are checked annually for their cathode protection, which helps prevent corrosion. A little less than 8% of the 393 miles of natural gas pipeline Denton is bare steel, Manganilla said.

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