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PEOPLES GAS PLEDGES HELP IN PROBE OF GAS INCIDENT

 PEOPLES GAS PLEDGES HELP IN PROBE OF GAS INCIDENT
 CHICAGO, Jan. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials of Peoples Gas Light and


Coke Company, a unit of Peoples Energy Corp., today reaffirmed its cooperation with governmental agencies investigating a series of explosions and fires that occurred Friday afternoon on the city's Near Northwest Side.
 The natural gas utility said it is providing full information and making its facilities readily accessible to independent investigators from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Illinois Commerce Commission, and the city of Chicago. The probe is intended to find out what caused the increase in natural gas pressure that triggered the explosions and fires.
 The utility said the scope of the investigation includes the possibility of a failure of equipment that regulates the pressure of gas moving into the affected area through its underground distribution mains as well as whether an operating error may have been involved.
 Peoples Gas said the investigation of the tragedy centers on two pairs of gas regulators in underground vaults within the affected area. Earlier last week, gas company workers conducted a weekly inspection of the tandem set of regulators at Chicago Avenue and Carpenter Street. On Friday, a utility crew had been doing annual maintenance at the set of regulators located at Erie and Green Streets. Both pairs of regulators govern the flow of gas into the area where the explosions and fires occurred.
 The company said the area affected by Friday's incident represents a small, isolated segment of its 4,000-mile network of gas distribution mains in the city.
 Gas regulators are commonly used in gas distribution systems of many U.S. cities to reduce gas pressure from medium- to low-pressure levels so the fuel can be used safely in appliances. The low-pressure distribution system used in Chicago is equipped with pairs of regulators, one for the control of pressure, the other for automatic back-up. This combination historically has provided fail-safe protection against any rise in pressure that might endanger the public.
 Patrick J. Doyle, the utility's vice president of Gas Operations, assured the public that the company's distribution system has been well maintained and has a proven record of safe operations. He termed Friday's incident "a tragedy that the company sincerely regrets."
 -0- 1/20/92
 /CONTACT: Ed Joyce, 312-431-4567, for Peoples Energy/
 (PGL) CO: Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company; Peoples Energy Corp. ST: Illinois IN: UTI SU:


KD -- NY061 -- 1569 01/20/92 17:56 EST
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Date:Jan 20, 1992
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