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City, PG&E, to Hold Major Gas Leak Drill at Sewer Agency of Southern Marin

The emergency training exercise Wednesday from 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. will simulate a major gas line break affecting the surrounding area including Mill Valley Middle School and The Redwoods.

When you see police cars and fire trucks at the Sewer Agency of Southern Marin Wednesday morning, don’t be alarmed. The city has teamed up with Pacific Gas and Electric to simulate a major gas leak at the facility as part of an emergency training exercise.

PG&E offers emergency management training to all cities in its territory, and this will be the first such training in the North Bay, said Brittany McKannay of PG&E External Communications. It will bring together Mill Valley police and fire, along with the public works and parks and recreation departments. PG&E will bring in its own management team, led by Public Safety Specialist Michael Velasquez.

“When you have an incident like this in any community, you think fire and law enforcement, but public works and parks play a huge part,” he said.

Mill Valley Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael St. John said the exercise is meant to provide realistic training, and managers will coordinate through a unified Incident Command System. The details of the scenario have been kept under wraps so participants can “think on their feet,” McKannay said.

The drill will, however, simulate a gas line break at the waste-water treatment plant on 450 Sycamore Ave. Although emergency vehicles and personnel will be on site, most of the exercise will take place inside the complex and won't impact traffic or the community.

With Mill Valley Middle School to the north, The Redwoods assisted living facility to the south, and Bayfront Park nearby, an incident at the plant poses a scenario that would impact a large number of people in the community, Velasquez said.

The Redwoods, the Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church, Mill Valley Middle School and other stakeholders have all been notified, St. John said.

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