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Lewisville Explosion Latest: Reports Show Finger Pointing

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Mireya Villarreal
A native Texan, Mireya was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley....
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LEWISVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – More finger-pointing tonight as CBS 11 continues to investigate a deadly gas explosion in Lewisville.   CBS 11’s investigative team recently obtained new documents filed with the state about the explosion that left one man dead.

In the reports, Atmos Energy is blaming Texas New Mexico Power (TNMP); and it, in turn, blaming Atmos.

The Texas Railroad Commission is quick to point out gas leaks aren’t uncommon.  In fact, in the first two weeks of this year there were more than 200 reported gas leaks state-wide.  But when those gas leaks lead to someone dying, you can be sure everyone involved will be quick to defend their actions.

Eleven days after the explosion in Lewisville, Atmos Energy and Texas New Mexico Power are now giving us some insight into what happened that day.

In its report filed with the state Tuesday, Atmos Energy gives its version of the incident.  It says Atmos marked its gas line on December 18, 2012.  But the excavator, Texas New Mexico Power, didn’t do any work until January 11, 2013.  By that time, Atmos says, the locate ticket had expired.

Read: TRC Atmost Energy Report

The report also accuses TNMP of using “mechanized equipment” in a tolerance zone.  That means Atmos Energy believes TNMP was using a backhoe at a site where manual digging would have been a better option.  Atmos also notes in its report that Texas New Mexico Power failed to put together a plan that would avoid damage and protect their pipelines.

Texas New Mexico Power filed its own report just a few days after the explosion.  In it, the company says Atmos Energy didn’t mark its pipeline correctly and they were off by at least two feet.

Read: TRC Texas New Mexico Power report

“There’s too much approximating of where the pipelines are before the digging occurs,” State Representative Lon Burnam told CBS 11.

Representative Burnam believes the gas and energy industry needs tighter restrictions.  During the last legislative session in 2011 he filed a bill that would have forced companies like Atmos to follow stricter safety guidelines.  The bill got stuck in committee and was never voted on.

“We don’t have enough accuracy in the mapping process and we’re not stringent enough in regulating that,” Burnam explained.  “And when the Railroad Commission itself can’t tell you where these pipes are, you got to know there’s a problem.”

This year Representative Burnam filed the same bill.  And while he hopes it will get past the committee, he’s realistic about his chances.

“I’ve maintained for a long time, in this state we put profit before people. And this is another example of that,” Burnam said.

CBS 11 reached out again to Texas New Mexico Power and Atmos Energy with questions about these report.  Atmos Energy Spokesperson, Jennifer Ryan, says they stand by their report.  And both referred us again to the Texas Railroad Commission, saying they are cooperating with their investigation.

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