About Air and Water

Friday, July 20, 2007

Gas companies requested to review pipes

By BRETT SHIPP - WFAA -TV - Thursday, July 19, 2007

WYLIE — A deadly natural gas explosion in Wylie last October has spawned a major safety initiative by the Texas Railroad Commission.

The state's natural gas regulatory agency has requested all gas companies to survey their use of a particular pipe and fitting that malfunctioned and is blamed for the Wylie deaths last fall.

A state Railroad Commission investigation released last March found that a faulty coupling under the alley caused the explosion that leveled the house where Benny and Martha Cryer were sleeping inside.

Both were killed in the explosion.

The pipe and fitting being blamed for the natural gas leak is called a compression coupling and riser and their safety and integrity are being questioned.

In the hours that followed the Wylie explosion, Atmos Energy scoured the neighborhood and found 21 defective riser pipes and couplings that needed to be replaced.

Some 24 gas leaks were found.

In a letter dated July 17th, Railroad Commission safety Director Mary McDaniel issues a "safety inquiry" notice to all gas service companies in Texas seeking information about "any leaks or failures of compression risers" and any information regarding the recommended "discontinuance of these risers."

Pipeline expert Don Deaver of Houston and says he has seen extensive problems with these particular pipes and fittings across the state.

The last one he saw involved an explosion in west Dallas in 2001 in which four teens were horribly burned.

Atmos officials say they have discussed compression fittings safety issue with Railroad Commission officials and are complying with all requests.

But Deaver says gas companies need to be more than compliant.

He says they need to replace old compression risers and hopefully help prevent another tragedy. "This is a problem," said Deaver, "this is not a remote problem that happens infrequently, it does happen quite a bit."

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See also House explodes in Wylie; elderly couple dead
By CYNTHIA VEGA - WFAA-TV - Monday, October 16, 2006
WYLIE — An explosion and fire early Monday morning leveled the home of an elderly man and woman who neighbors called the anchors of their Wylie neighborhood.

Both died as a result, and surrounding homes were evacuated as a precaution.

"It just blew up," said Pam Willey. She said the couple was trapped in a raging inferno in the house in the 300 block of South 3rd Street. Her husband tried to help the victims before firefighters arrived by spraying water on them.

"We couldn't quite reach them because it was so hot," Willey said. "My husband kept trying to keep the hose on them to keep them from burning; I mean, we didn't know what else to do."

Benny Cryer, 78, was killed; his 77-year-old wife, Martha, was critically injured. She was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas for emergency treatment, where she later died.

Shocked neighbors told News 8 that the Cryers had lived in the house since it was built in 1964.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Firefighters said flammable oxygen was being used in the house but they also discovered elevated levels of natural gas in a sewer line.

Sixteen homes on either side of the Cryer home were evacuated as a precaution.

Plano firefighters assisted Wylie units in battling the three-alarm blaze that leveled the building.

An American flag was still flying in the yard at daybreak—a reflection of Benny Cryer's patriotism. He was said by neighbors to be a military veteran.

"They were really sweet people, and they deserved as much help as they could get," Willey said.

Wylie is 14 miles east of Plano in Collin County.

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