METHANE GAS BUILDUP
Crisis Communication, Public Education Campaign, Spokesperson Training
A Wisconsin municipality discovered that a neighborhood built adjacent to and on top of a former landfill may have explosive levels of methane gas building up. Such a high level of methane gas could cause a home to explode, resulting in injury or death. The solution for such an event is straightforward: homes and properties must be tested to determine if methane gas is present and if so, pipes must be drilled down and the methane gas must be vented. The municipality knew they could technically resolve the problem, but they were concerned about the communication necessary to obtain quick permission to inspect private property. Concerned about triggering panic among property owners and tenants of the neighborhood, the municipality turned to Mueller Communications.
Mueller Communications prepared for and launched a comprehensive canvassing effort. We worked with the municipality to develop key messages to use when meeting with homeowners and residents and trained a team of canvassers. We organized teams consisting of a city official and a Mueller Communications staffer to canvas the neighborhood and make individualized contact with each resident. Each team was armed with key messages and handouts and prepared to answer all resident questions and address all resident concerns.
We also developed standby media materials for use if a member of the media learned about the issue. Spokespeople were prepared and Mueller Communications monitored traditional and social media for potential stories.
Within just one week, the canvassing teams obtained permission to inspect every single property – a major victory considering the scope of the canvas.
In very short order, the municipality inspected every property and was able to immediately report the results to the homeowner / resident, mitigating any fears and uncertainty in cases where there was not an issue, or allowing for quick action to address all safety concerns.
Though we were prepared for the worst-case scenario, there was no media attention and all concerns were quickly addressed without incident.