Sniffing our way to a safer community

According to, a detection dog or “sniffer dog” is trained to use its senses to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife, currency and contraband. The sense most used by dogs is smell. So naturally, when we introduced Gaston the “smart sniffer” to our community a little more than a year ago, associating the vehicle with a beagle made perfect sense. Beagles, in case you didn’t know, are second only to blood hounds when it comes to their sniffing capabilities.

Since introducing Gaston at a press conference in March of 2018,  our Gas Operations team has routinely used Gaston to patrol our 1,500 square miles of service territory and “sniff” out potential natural gas. Most of the work occurs during the overnight hours when there is less traffic on the roads. During this time, we have been able to obtain data and prioritize areas of concern for maintenance or repair.

Gaston is equipped with revolutionary technology that helps make our community safer by sniffing out natural gas. Early detection helps minimize the amount of methane released into the atmosphere, improving air quality. Once methane, a major component of natural gas, escapes through faulty or damaged pipes – it absorbs the sun’s heat and warms the atmosphere, for this reason it is considered a greenhouse gas according to the Environmental Defense Fund website.

Not only does Gaston protect the community and environment, it also provides quicker inspections and requires less resources for the routine work. Gaston also helps reduce wear and tear on our other vehicles – which saves our customers and us money.

Maintaining a focus on safety continues to be a top priority for us. Gaston also responds to customer concerns of natural gas scents. It is an added measure for assisting crews with difficult to find escaping natural gas.

Ensuring we are open to new tools and technologies that help us will always be a consideration. Gaston has proven to be just that, an invaluable tool that is expediting our inspection process with its acute sense of “smell”.

If you smell a strong odor of natural gas (smells like rotten eggs) you should leave the house immediately. Don’t turn any electrical switches on or off, or use a flashlight or the telephone. An electric spark from any electric or battery-powered device, or even from static electricity, could ignite escaping natural gas and cause an explosion. Call (210) 353-4357 (HELP) from a neighbor’s house as soon as possible.

Visit our previous blog for information on other natural gas safety tips.

John Moreno

John is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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