Hundreds of northwest Dallas residents are facing a week without natural gas while Atmos Energy replaces the aging lines.
The ramped-up response by Atmos is not entirely unexpected. The neighborhood is very close to the one where a 12-year-old girl was killed by a natural gas explosion in February.
Richard Cuello lives in one of roughly 45 homes along the 3200 and 3300 blocks of Darvany and Kinkaid Drives currently without natural gas service.
“I didn’t find the notice that they sent to me or left on my door. And found out the next morning by asking the guys who were in the alley,” said resident Richard Cuello.
Atmos Energy abruptly shut gas off Sunday after a resident reported a gas leak.
“I rather be without gas and have them repair everything then for something to go wrong. There's too many families that can affected like that little girl,” Cuello said.
Cuello is referring to Linda Michelle Rogers. She was the 12-year-old girl who died in a natural gas explosion in February about a mile from Cuello's neighborhood. Atmos Energy has since replaced 150,000 feet of aging natural gas lines in northwest Dallas.
City councilman Omar Narvaez said Atmos has decided to replace the gas lines in the neighborhood while repairing the leak.
“I wish they would give us enough notice that way to be prepared. Now I have to go to the store to see what things I can make easily because my stove works with gas,” said resident Katherine Moreno
The City of Dallas is allowing affected residents to use the showers at the Bachman Recreation Center until gas service is restored. But for folks like Cuello's 90-year-old mother, who is bedridden, that offer is of little use.
“My mother has to have heat, her age and everything, she likes it warm in the mornings. For me its fine, but for her it’s the inconvenience. There's not much I can do. It’s hard to get her out of the house so I just keep her wrapped up the best I can,” Cuello said.
Atmos Energy has not offered residents any sort of financial compensation like they did to other residents left without service for weeks. Narvaez said Atmos told him it’s considered a minor leak and that’s why no per diem was offered.
Atmos classified the latest leaks as "non-hazardous", but state audits of Atmos found that Atmos has been experiencing hazardous "grade one" leaks, like the deadly leak in February, over the past three years and Atmos is not always properly preventing corrosion of its pipes.
The Texas Railroad Commission requires companies to "take action immediately" when it's a "grade one" leak, but less hazardous leaks, graded two or three, can be repaired over months or even years.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins takes issue with that, saying, at the beginning of February, Atmos did not classify the leak near the Rogers' family home as "grade one." But by the end of the month, it was deadly.
"I think people have a right to know what is leaking," Jenkins said.
Jenkins is asking Atmos to provide a map showing every leak in the city.
Atmos Energy declined an interview. In a statement, the company says it is now in the process of restoring gas to some of the 45 homes affected. It expects gas to be turned back on at each of the homes by Wednesday.