Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Atmos Energy accused of dishonesty in Texas gas explosion

MESQUITE, Texas – A local television station has accused Atmos Energy of being dishonest in denying its natural gas resulted in an explosion that destroyed a local home.

The Mesquite couple that owns the home is outraged over what it feels is a potentially deadly mistake made by Atmos Energy.

The Samons' house exploded Nov. 20, 2009. Atmos crews said natural gas was not involved, and it wasn't their problem. Atmos claimed a build-up of carbon monoxide was responsible for the blast that leveled the home.

WFAA-TV of Dallas-Fort Worth contended in on-air news coverage on Jan. 6 that it had learned that not only was Atmos wrong, but that gas leaks were found behind the Samons' house and all over the neighborhood, and gas fittings with a legacy of failure were involved.

The station, News 8, began investigating natural gas compression coupling failures in 2007.

Kristin Samons was lying on her sofa that afternoon when an explosion ripped through her house. It destroyed the back of her home and threw her across her living room.

"It was just a loud sound, and at the same time my body was just flying across the room," Samons said. She escaped the destruction with only a bump on her head.

Atmos Energy crews quickly declared that a build-up of carbon monoxide, not natural gas, was to blame.

"That didn't make sense to me, and no, I didn't accept it," Samons said.

Two weeks later, insurance company investigators insisted Atmos re-investigate. This time, natural gas safety inspectors with the Texas Railroad Commission were called in. State investigators discovered two natural gas compression couplings leaking at the main under the alley behind the Samons' home.

A follow-up survey of the entire neighborhood turned up something disturbing - gas leaks at more than 24 other locations. "That tells me there's a problem and somebody needs to do something quickly before somebody else around here gets hurt or killed," Samons said.

Atmos crews spent the next several days scouring the neighborhood near Town East Mall detecting and repairing leaks.

Sharon Dornon lives across the street.

"They came over and checked my yard for gas leaks," she said. "They checked David's and Jerry's next door, and they said we had a leak also."

Others in the neighborhood were told by Atmos officials that they were just conducting routine operations.

"Public safety, as well as the safety of our employees, is Atmos Energy's number one priority," said Atmos Energy Spokesman Ray Granado. "We will continue to assist and cooperate with the ongoing investigation." (Source: Brett Shipp, WFAA-TV Dallas-Fort Worth, Jan, 6, 2010)

1 comment:

  1. The smell of natural gas leaks is pretty bad throughout vast areas called Texoma land. The odor goes on for miles, it is rather alarming,so I keep my windows rolled up when driving. I increase my speed, so if there is a spontaneous fireball my car can get me out of there!! I'm not from around here, and it is scary. The locals no longer notice it, but I sure do.

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