TSA provides explosives training for largest natural gas provider

Tuesday, January 17, 2023
TSA surface and pipeline inspectors meet with agency explosives expert Clayton del Valle (right) before an explosives training session with SoCalGas employees. From left on the left side of the table, TSI-Pipeline Adam DeLeon, TSI-Surface David Douglas and TSI-Pipeline Stephen Ackermann. (Photo by Jeremy Herbert)

The threat to America’s pipeline system is real, and TSA is working hand-in-hand with U.S. natural gas companies to reduce the threat.

TSA partnered with SoCalGas, the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, to address a key risk – explosives.

TSA conducted a special explosives recognition training class in Victorville, California, to draw attention to the dangers and possibilities of terrorist threats to pipelines, specifically local gas transmission partners.

“We teamed up with SoCalGas to give their team a fundamental understanding of how an improvised explosive could look and be deployed along gas transmission lines,” said Transportation Security Inspector (TSI) Adam DeLeon, who enlisted the help of TSA Los Angeles explosives expert Clayton del Valle to lead the training.

Examples of power sources. (File photo)
Examples of power sources. (File photo)

DeLeon and del Valle both served in the U.S. Marine Corps and understand the importance of teamwork in accomplishing a mission. They designed the class with a hands-on opportunity for SoCalGas employees to see several types of mock improved explosive devices and different explosive components, such as C-4 and chemicals commonly used in oil fields.

“These are the guys the public sees and who go house to house,” said SoCalGas Senior Special Agent Isaac Gonzales. “These are the guys who see it all.”

No matter the experience level, DeLeon believes the SoCalGas family walked away with an appreciation of not just how dangerous their job is, but how dangerous it could be if someone tries to harm and disrupt the distribution of our nation’s natural gas supply.

SoCalGas representatives told DeLeon they enjoyed the presentation and felt it was very beneficial, saying, “The presenter (del Valle) was funny, and that made it really enjoyable for us. But the message hit home when he showed us what we could possibly encounter in the field.”

“Working with Senior Special Agent Gonzales to provide this level of training and continue to keep our nation safe is a hallmark of our TSA teams’ commitment to local stakeholders,” DeLeon noted. “I think we hit the mark with this presentation, and goals were met on both sides of the fence. This was a great opportunity to grow our relationship with SoCalGas.”

DeLeon said TSA Regional Security Inspector Michael Madrigal began this relationship when Madrigal was a TSI, and DeLeon is excited about the opportunity to continue the key partnership effort.

“Our TSA team will continue to work together to meet the needs of SoCalGas and any other partner that wants to improve and grow their security footprint in today’s evolving threat culture,” said DeLeon.

By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs