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Concerns Over Possible Presence of Mercury of No Consequence To SEMCO ENERGY or Its Customers

PORT HURON, Mich., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Responding to reports from the Chicago and Detroit areas of the possible improper removal from service of older natural gas pressure regulators containing Mercury, SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY has conducted a voluntary initial review of its operations records.

The review has established that neither SEMCO ENERGY nor its customers need have any concerns over the presence of Mercury. The company's records do not contain a single occasion of the improper removal of a Mercury-loaded regulator or a Mercury spill.

Of the approximately 7,000 indoor meters still in use in SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY's service area no regulator in service in a residence is believed to contain mercury. Of these 7,000, some 3,300 are in service in low-pressure distribution systems. This means that the pressure in the mains and service lines is low enough so that the regulators on the appliances themselves are sufficient to control operating pressure.

The remaining 3,700 meter sets will be inspected by SEMCO ENERGY technicians to verify that none employ a mercury-loaded regulator. The balance of SEMCO's residential meters are located outdoors. These meter sets are of a more modern design and do not employ Mercury in their components.

Mercury-loaded regulators were used primarily in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. The element, common in thermometers, barometers and batteries, was used in the seal of the regulator which, in the event of a pressure surge, would break, allowing natural gas to pass through the vent tube on the regulator into the outer air. Typically, a regulator is located upstream of the gas meter and its function is to reduce the pressure of natural gas to approximately that of the operating pressure of appliances. A small regulator on the appliance itself regulates actual operating pressure.

SEMCO ENERGY GAS COMPANY distributes natural gas to more than 350,000 customer in Michigan and Alaska. It also owns and operates businesses involved in natural gas engineering and quality assurance services, pipeline construction services, propane distribution, intrastate pipelines and natural gas storage in various regions of the United States. In addition, it provides information technology and outsourcing services, specializing in the mid-range computer market.
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CONTACT: Francis R. Lieder, Jr., Manager of Corporate Communications & Media Relations of SEMCO ENERGY, Inc., 810-987-2200, ext. 4186, fax, 810-989-4098, or E-mail,

"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding SEMCO Energy's business which are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report or Form 10-K for the most recently ended fiscal year.

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