(Note from Erin: If you live in Texas and use Atmos Energy, please read this story and share it with your family and friends.)
According to a recently published investigation by The Dallas Morning News, more than two dozen homes across North and Central Texas have blown up, since 2006, due to leaking natural gas. And nine people have lost their lives while at least 22 others have been badly injured.
“These explosions all happened along a massive network of pipelines owned and operated by Atmos Energy Corp. It’s one of [the] country’s largest natural gas companies, headquartered in a gleaming tower on LBJ Freeway near the Galleria mall. Atmos pipes run under streets and behind homes across Dallas and Fort Worth, north to Sherman and south to College Station.
No single state or federal agency tracks all natural gas accidents, making it hard to get a handle on the destruction. Not all deaths and injuries are reported, and regulatory records are sometimes contradictory or incomplete.”1
The full investigation by the Dallas News uncovered the fact that Atmos Energy has some of the nation’s oldest pipes which makes corrosion and cracks not seem so far fetched. And, Atmos Mid-Tex, the company’s largest division which includes Dallas and Fort Worth, has received five times as many state safety-violation citations as Houston’s CenterPoint, the other large gas-distribution company in Texas.
Although Atmos Energy leaders say they take safety very seriously and have invested $3 billion in pipeline upgrades since 2005 on their Mid-Tex system alone, their record says something entirely different. Their many accidents and state safety citations over the years actually suggest they need to up their safety game because “based on a key federal measure — the rate of significant pipeline incidents over the past decade — Atmos Energy’s performance is actually getting worse.”2
In truth, the company seldom accepts responsibility for explosions but instead lays the blame on lightning strikes, bad weather, poor soil conditions in North Texas, mysterious sources of underground gas, or careless digging by construction crews. And their numerous settled lawsuits filed by families affected by explosions back that up.