Posted on Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 at 7:52 am
Atmos Energy Corporation has recently been ordered to look into their couplings in North Texas after they were connected to an explosion in Irving that destroyed a home. The order was given by the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees the safety of pipelines in the region.
The explosion took place on January 1, 2018 while Atmos crews were repairing a leaking natural gas line.
One of the workers told the family that they didn’t need to evacuate the house. Resident Alejandra de la Cruz said they told the family, “If you’re fine, then we’re fine. Everything is fine.”
A neighbor said, “It sounded like a bomb. It shook the house.”
Though the house was destroyed, the occupants, a family of five, were unharmed in the incident.
In February of 2018, the Atmos Energy Corporation denied any connection between the gas line work and the explosion. On an official investigation form, Atmos said the gas didn’t ignite or explode. However, they changed their answer later and ultimately admitted the gas did explode, noting coupling between six-inch pipes wasn’t installed correctly.
Atmos Energy Corporation Fined
For the event, the Railroad Commission of Texas fined Atmos $16,000. Atmos also received citations for the violating the following safety regulations:
- Inadequate records
- Improperly-installed pipeline
- Delays repairing or eliminating the hazard
Atmos was told to fix these deficiencies and they were ordered to turn in a plan to correct the issues. After reviewing the plan, Texas turned down major parts of the proposed corrections in October, saying they “must investigate if this situation exists elsewhere.”
In November, Atmos replied, “Atmos Energy is reviewing our current processes and procedures […] to prevent a similar event from occurring. This review will be completed by June 30, 2019.”
The commission was unsatisfied with Atmos’ self-imposed deadline and ordered the company to finish the review by May 7, 2019.
Another Atmos Residential Explosion
In February 2018, a month after the incident, a second gas-line explosion happened in Dallas, which killed a 12-year-old girl. This blast led to the neighborhood being evacuated while Atmos worked on the gas lines.
Though the Railroad Commission of Texas handles pipeline safety, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the dallas explosion. However, the NTSB noted their reports usually take a year or more to conduct their inquiries.
Legal Representation to Seek Compensation
Atmos has not released any information about how many more of their couplings might need repairs. That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see their crews working on even more gas lines in residential areas in over the next few months. If you notice that an Atmos crew is working near your home, it might be best to evacuate your home until they finish their repairs.
Should a gas line issue lead to your home being damaged or, worse, someone in your family being hurt or killed, professional legal representation is highly recommended to seek justice for their inability to keep you and your family safe. Going against such a large company on your own can prove fruitless, especially since they will have their own team of lawyers and staff doing everything they can to minimize their settlement offers.
The attorneys at Williams Hart have experience handling explosion-related injury and death litigation against entities like Atmos Energy Corporation. We are here to make sure you receive compensation for injuries and property damages to the full extent of the law.