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I-Team Investigates Gas Leak Response Times

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The CBS 11 I-Team has been looking into the issue of pipeline safety for months.  On Thursday we found out firsthand when it took nearly two hours for Atmos crews to show up and fix a gas line that was hit in east Fort Worth.

The I-Team found out while that may seem like a slow response time to most of us, Atmos is not breaking the rules because in Texas gas companies have four hours to respond to a leak.

“About 7 o’clock this morning a vehicle hit a light pole and somehow or another got entangled with a gas appliance over there,” Tim Hardeman, Fort Worth Spokesperson, said.  “I was told it was a reducer.”

Not long after someone called 9-1-1 fire fighters showed up and blocked off the area near the gas leak.  They also tested the air with special gas meters and decided not to evacuate because there wasn’t an immediate danger to nearby neighbors and businesses.

Nearly two hours later Atmos crews pulled up.  “Atmos eventually got on scene and they’re working on it right now,” Hardeman told us.

But Thursday wasn’t the first time Atmos has been questioned about their response times.

Back in May 2008 Atmos Energy was questioned about their response time after an explosion in McKinney sent three people to the hospital.

A few days after the incident the company’s president, John Paris, told reporters even though it took them more than 30 minutes to respond, Atmos followed industry standards.  And they didn’t evacuate because they didn’t feel there was a significant safety threat.

“To do so would put a terrible and generally unnecessary strain on a community’s response system,” Paris said in 2008.

The I-Team found out there is no federal law that requires gas companies to respond to a leak in a certain amount of time, but Texas law does-

Texas Administrative Code: Title 16, Part 1, Chapter 18.5(d) An operator that receives a notice of damage to its underground pipeline through a notification center pursuant to §18.11(b) of this title, relating to reporting requirements, shall respond within four hours.

An Atmos representative couldn’t explain why their crews took two hours to show up, but said they are looking into the situation.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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