Situation Updates

A Message from our President & CEO, David Anderson

On Oct. 19 at approximately 9:40 a.m., there was an explosion in downtown Portland causing injuries and immense damage to the area. I want to express my deepest concern for those injured and our heartfelt appreciation for the efforts of the first responders, including our own employees. Lives were saved due to their quick and effective actions.

We want to assure our customers and the communities we serve that public safety is our absolute priority. We continually train our crews to be ready and I’m proud of their rapid response.

 

Situation Update (5:45 p.m., Oct. 25, 2016)

  • The investigation at NW 23rd and Glisan is scheduled to resume on Wed., Oct. 26. As a result, there will be a road closure of NW Glisan between NW 22nd and NW 23rd, both lanes, from 9:00 a.m. until 3 p.m.
  • NW Natural continues to assist in the ongoing investigation.  

Situation Update (10:50 a.m., Oct. 22, 2016)

We have restored gas service to the area and have visited customer locations to reactivate service. Any customer that was not reachable during our service technician visits should please call our Customer Contact Center at 800-422-4012 so we can coordinate service activation.

Loy Clark has asked NW Natural to tell anyone who has experienced a loss associated with the explosion to call Liberty Mutual at 844-839-5491 for instructions on how to submit a claim (and to provide that phone number to their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance agent).

What’s next?

The work at the site, NW 23rd and Glisan, has now shifted to focus on investigation. While Loy Clark’s Electrical Division has been identified as the contractor that damaged our line, the investigation is ongoing and the source of ignition that caused the explosion is still unknown. Because there are many agencies and entities involved and the work is complex, it could take weeks or months to complete the investigation.

NW Natural personnel will continue to do all we can to assist investigating agencies.

NW Natural wants to make sure those impacted get the help they need. We encourage those affected by this incident who have questions or who need assistance to please call our Customer Contact Center at 800-422-4012 and talk to a representative.

We will provide additional updates to this page if new information becomes available.

Situation Update (9:50 a.m., Oct. 21, 2016)

Natural gas service has been restored for 80 customers. Today our service technicians will continue contacting the remaining 46 customers to restore their service.

Loy Clark has asked NW Natural to spread the word that anyone who has experienced a loss associated with the explosion near NW 23rd Avenue and Glisan Street should call Liberty Mutual at 1-844-839-5491 for instructions on how to submit a claim.

NW Natural wants to make sure those impacted get the help they need, so if you have any questions, please call our Customer Contact Center at 1-800-422-4012. Please stay on the line and we’ll get you to a representative.

Situation Update (4:00 p.m., Oct. 20, 2016)

NW Natural crews remain on site and have begun the work to restore service, which we hope to complete this evening.

Our service technicians will be attempting to contact all affected customers tonight. For those customers that may not be home at the time of this visit, please call us at 800-422-4012.

Other details about yesterday that we have confirmed:

  • We received a call on Sept. 12, 2016 from Loy Clark’s Electrical Division requesting a locate* at the site, and the locate was performed by Locating, Inc., on Sept. 13. Loy Clark was conducting underground work at the time of the damage.
  • The line that was damaged was a 1”coated steel pipe installed in 1985. In 1996, at the request of a customer, we moved the meter and replaced six feet of service line.
  • A scheduled leakage and atmospheric corrosion survey was completed on this pipe on Jan. 15, 2016 and no leaks or corrosion were found.
  • We still do not have any further details about the source of the ignition, which is still under investigation.

NW Natural has also received inquiries about Oregon locate requirements, which can be found at www.digsafelyoregon.com. In summary, the law requires the following for excavation:

  • Call for a locate 48 business hours before digging.
  • Get the area marked and maintain the markings.
  • If a pipe is present, hand excavation is needed to maintain the pipe’s integrity.

The investigation will determine if all the procedures and requirements were followed.

We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

*To locate means to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines.

Situation Update (9:41 a.m., Oct. 20, 2016)

  • NW Natural crews remain on the scene, coordinating with the Portland Fire Department and other investigators.
  • Gas service remains off to 118 customers.
  • The site needs to be cleared and released by investigators before we can begin to restore gas service.

Our employees are coordinating with the Red Cross to help people displaced by this event. If you have been displaced and need lodging, call NW Natural 800-882-3377 and we will help make arrangements. For additional resources, the Red Cross suggests calling 2-1-1. For mental health resources, call Multnomah County’s mental health crisis line at 503-988-4888.

Situation Update (7:10 p.m., Oct. 19, 2016)

  • The area has been made safe and we have emergency response personnel monitoring the situation and will continue to do so through the night.
  • The site needs to be cleared and released by investigators before we can begin to restore service.
  • We will be coordinating with Portland Fire Department and other officials for anything they need from us.
  • We continue to work with the Red Cross to make sure any displaced residents have a hotel room and necessities.
  • As a reminder, anyone who was impacted by this incident and needs help can call our emergency line 800-882-3377; we have employees ready to assist.

Again, we want to express our deepest concern for those injured and those affected by today’s events, and thank the first responders, including our employees, who all did an amazing job.

Here are the facts as we know them (3:45 p.m., Oct. 19, 2016):

  • NW Natural responded to a call about a third-party damage (a contractor dug into one of our gas lines) at 500 NW 23rd in Portland, Oregon at 8:55 a.m.
  • NW Natural crews were onsite at 9:10 a.m.
  • We worked with the fire department to evacuate the building and were on scene when an ignition occurred at 9:38 a.m. We do not know the cause of the ignition.
  • Gas was controlled at 9:52 a.m.
  • We have shut service down to 115 natural gas customers in the area. Additional customers may be without service due to the electricity being turned off.
  • All structures within 300 feet have been checked by NW Natural crews for the presence of natural gas.
  • NW Natural crews have also completed a leak survey of our underground facilities for a two block radius and are currently monitoring our infrastructure to ensure no further issues.
  • We will be coordinating with Portland Fire, PGE and City of Portland structural officials to re-establish service in the area as soon as possible.
  • Our employees are coordinating with the Red Cross so anyone that has been displaced by this event should call NW Natural 800-882-3377 and we will help make sure arrangements are made, or they can go to the Red Cross Community Shelter at 1972 NW Flanders.

Given the severity of this incident we understand our communities may have safety concerns. We think it’s important for the public to know that very specific conditions must be met for a gas ignition to occur. There has to be a very specific amount of gas in an enclosed space and a source of ignition present all at once. Having these conditions present at once is extremely rare, which is why millions of people are served by natural gas safely each day.

In addition, we have one of the most modern pipeline systems in the country, but the most common cause of a pipeline accident is someone digging into a gas line. So please, under all circumstance, call 811 before you dig, and if you ever smell natural gas or a rotten egg odor, or hear a hissing sound, please call our emergency line any time day or night at 800-882-3377.

We have been serving this community for 157 years, and we have 1,100 employees who live and work here and care deeply about delivering our product safely every day. Please know that we are doing all we can to assist those affected and to restore service quickly.

We will continue to provide updates at nwnatural.com and Twitter @nwnatural as more information becomes available.