Explosion Investigation: NTSB releases photos of faulty pipes

- Federal investigators may have found the spot where a leak caused a deadly explosion in a Northwest Dallas neighborhood.

The National Transportation Safety Board released photos showing a section of pipe that reportedly failed near the Rogers’ family home on Espanola Drive.

The home exploded last Friday, killing 12-year-old Linda “Michellita” Rogers and injuring four other people. Two similar gas fires that happened in the same neighborhood are also getting attention.

The faulty pipes are being sent to an NTSB lab for further investigation. Atmos Energy blames moving soil caused by heavy rain and its aging steel pipes for numerous gas leaks in the neighborhood.

Thomas Brucato works for an Austin law firm that represents 300 Texas cities on gas, electric and water utility matters. Dallas is one of the clients.

“Anytime there’s an accident, it’s a concern to cities across the region,” he said.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates utilities and pipeline safety, is also investigating the deadly explosion.

Brucato hopes federal investigators and the railroad commission get answers.

“To determine whether there’s a pervasive problem, whether reasonable steps can be taken to ameliorate or mitigate the potential for future explosions,” he said “Just really getting their hands around what exactly happened. Is it likely to happen again? And what steps can be taken to make sure it doesn’t happen.”    

Michael Williams is a former Texas railroad commissioner. He said it’s possible a dangerous gas pool caused the house to explode.

“When we have heavy rainfall over a long period of time, it is not unusual for that to adversely affect our underground systems,” Williams explained. “If there is a leak, the rain causes the gas to sort of settle in an area. Unfortunately, it makes for the opportunity for an explosion to occur a little bit more because that gas is just sitting there.”

The NTSB could take 12 to 24 before issuing a report. The railroad commission’s report could also take just as long to be released.

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