About Air and Water

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Explosion probe faults gas company

By GARY REAVES - WFAA-TV - Wednesday, August 6, 2008
MCKINNEY — Almost three months after an explosion destroyed three McKinney homes and just nine days after Nancy Foster died from burns she endured in the blast, the Texas Railroad Commission announced they discovered numerous violations made by the gas line company and its contractor.

During their three-month probe, the commission said they discovered six rule violations made by Atmos and two more violations by its contractor, M. J. Sheridan.

The Foster family's lawyer, Frank Branson, said they are outraged.

"They ignored the rules before the explosion," he said. "They ignored the rules that caused the explosion and they ignored the rules on how you investigate and record the data."

The tragedy started when the gas company's approved contractor, M J Sheridan, punctured a three-inch gas line with a boring machine. Rules require that when they get within 12 inches of the line, they shut down the machine and dig by hand.

From there, the report stated the mistakes multiplied.

While the line was cut at 4:30 p.m., no one called 911 until 5:38 p.m., which was after the explosions began. In that crucial hour, the on-scene inspector failed to test sewer lines for gas and failed to order evacuations. Afterwards, Atmos failed to give drug and alcohol tests to the work crew.

The Foster family said they are suing for justice and answers.

"We supports our employees who we believe took appropriate actions at the time of the incident," read a statement released by Atmos. "We also have high standards for our contractors ... We continue to review our practices and protocols."
Read more on WFAA
The report is preliminary and Atmos and the contractor have 30 days to respond.

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