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The Next L.A. / Reinventing Our Future : PREPAREDNESS : IDEA FILE: Auto Gas Shut-off

How It Works

Automatic shut-off valves would be required on all gas meters and home appliances. The devices are on the market now. When the ground started shaking in the 1987 Whittier quake, about 20,000 households had their gas cut off by such devices. In Japan such devices are mandatory

Benefits

The devices could help prevent gas explosions when pipes or appliances are ruptured by a temblor.

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Short-term or long-term impact?

Short term.

Supporters

The devices offer a cheap, available way to turn off the gas even if the occupant is asleep, disabled by a disaster or away from home.

Opponents

The Southern California Gas Co. does not recommend such devices because they often switch off the gas when there is no leak. Restoring customers’ power then takes much longer because utility crews must check every house and every gas appliance for real leaks. Of the 150,000 customers who were without service after the Northridge quake, only about 10% were actual pipeline breaks. Most had turned off the gas as a precaution.

The Costs

$100-$200 per gas meter.

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REALITY CHECK

Likely.


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