BILLINGS - A spokesman for Montana-Dakota Utilities confirmed Monday the company was notified recently by a customer who reported suspicious activity on their natural gas service line.
The spokesman, Mark Hanson, said a company investigation revealed the customer's gas line was intentionally tampered with, but he did not say how or what damage may have been done. Hanson did say that further investigation revealed "additional locations where intentional tampering occurred."
The gas company has repaired all known damage, Hanson said, and the company has conducted a leak survey in seven West End Billings subdivisions, including Day Break, Wells Garden, Vintage Estates, Verde Estates, Granite Park, Verde Meadows, Oakridge, and Black Rock.
"We believe the damage occurred on May 15," Hanson said in a statement provided to Q2. "There was damage at 23 locations, and was done by one person. All known damage has been repaired and the affected area has undergone a leak survey. No further leaks have been detected."
The company plans to return to that area within two to four weeks to conduct another leak survey to ensure the safety of the system, Hanson said.
The incident has been referred to local law enforcement, he said.
Billings resident John Myhre encountered the man when he was in the Granite Park subdivision on Sunday, May 15.
“Basically walked up and asked if we wanted to be part of a program where they create a leak on the MDU’s side of the meter,” said Myhre.
Myhre works for the city's Public Works Department and says he's seen the man on job sites many times before.
“He goes you know you won’t be charged for anything or anything like that and I had to stop him and ask him, I said isn’t any leak dangerous," Myhre said.
He says he's frustrated with the lack of information provided by MDU.
“My trust has been broken like a lot of other people's and it’s just a bad situation that should have never happened. And unfortunately, I don’t feel like MDU has handled it very well,” said Myhre.