Puget Sound Energy repair crews are working this week to remedy dozens of small natural gas leaks afflicting homeowners in the state’s largest mixed-use development, Tehaleh near Bonney Lake.
PSE spokesman Charlie Gadzik said the cause of the epidemic of leaks, first discovered last week, is still unknown.
“We have several theories, but we’re not saying what those are until we confirm our findings,” he said.
Once those findings are confirmed, the utility will know whether the Tehaleh leaks are the symptom of a problem likely to crop up elsewhere in its natural gas network in the Puget Sound area or whether those issues were specific to the development.
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The Bellevue-based utility inspected all the home meters in the development, 889, and discovered 161 leaks.
Those leaks were small enough, he said, that they didn’t pose any risk of an explosion, fire or asphyxiation. The leaks were all discovered outside the homes near the individual gas meters. The company first launched the communitywide inspection effort after a cluster of homeowners reported smelling gas near their houses.
All of the homes in Tehaleh have been built in the past few years. The 4,700-acre development was once a Weyerhaeuser timber tract.
Under the development agreement with Pierce County, some 25,000 people could eventually occupy homes in the area if the county approves the second phase of the development plan.
Tehaleh at completion will contain several commercial office buildings, retail stores and public buildings. The development now consists of single-family residences, an elementary school, a clubhouse and restaurant, and a community center that includes a coffee shop and offices.
Gadzik said residents whose natural gas connections remain to be fixed will be receiving notices in the form of door hangers notifying them of the need to repair their connections. Homeowners will have to be present during the repair process because workers must shut off the gas to accomplish the fix.
That service interruption will require workers to access homes to relight gas appliances and furnaces inside.