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TX Lawmaker Proposes Pipeline Safety Measures

Friday, February 1, 2019

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Earlier this month and related to last year’s gas leak that resulted in a child fatality, Texas state Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) filed for legislation that would both up the oversight of natural gas pipelines and increase the transparency of activities by state utility company Texas Railroad Commission.

In the bills, if a leak occurs, Anchia calls for gas companies to inform customers living within a quarter-mile of the leak within 72 hours. Notices would have to be written in English and Spanish.

Texas Pipeline Explosion

In late February 2018, a gas explosion killed 12-year-old Linda Rogers. Around this time, Atmos Energy shut off natural gas to the northwest Dallas neighborhood, which provides service to 2,800 customers, to replace all the gas lines with more durable plastic pipes.

The night before the explosion, Atmos was in the neighborhood investigating leaks, though crews did not cut off service and the area was not evacuated. News station WFAA reports that Atmos was aware of various leaks in Rogers’ neighborhood during the seven weeks before the explosion. The incident in question was the third explosion of three in the neighborhood, which launched an evacuation of more than 1,000 homes.

Atmos blamed shifting soil conditions that put pressure on the system—composed at least partially of aging steel pipe—for creating the leaks.

Bills Proposed

Currently, there is no timeline in place for notifying residents in case of a gas leak. Another of the bills proposed would force operators to notify regulators within one hour about a leak that resulted in death, hospitalization or property damage totaling more than $50,000.

Anchia has also proposed accelerating the replacement of old cast iron, wrought iron and bare steel pipes, with a target date for completion set for the end of 2020. Atmos has noted that it replaced 40 miles of cast iron and 47 miles of steel pipe in Dallas last year.

“A 12-year-old girl was blown up while sleeping in her home,” Anchia said. “An entire community is grieving and we must never let this happen again. My proposals would increase transparency and public safety and hold bad actors accountable.”

Anchia also wants to mandate that the Railroad Commission create an accessible database for natural gas pipeline-related inspections and issues such as complaints.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Government; Health & Safety; Laws and litigation; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines

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