Atmos crews working in parts of Dallas to replace aging gas lines

Concerned people in parts of Dallas where they're seeing Atmos crews busy at work.

Some are wondering if there are leaks under repair and if they should be ready to evacuate. They just want to know what's going on in the months following a deadly house explosion.

A resident in the Northwest Dallas neighborhood contacted FOX 4 out of frustration and concern after reporting he smelled gas in his alley on Sunday. He said Atmos responded and told him it was a substantial leak and they would get to it in within the next 30 days.

Atmos Energy tells FOX 4 News that technicians responded Sunday night and repaired the leak. But homeowners say it’s the lack of communication with Atmos that’s adding even more anxiety to the whole process.

“Hearing about the gas leaks and the smell of the gas sometimes isn’t comforting to say,” said resident Iles Johns.

Residents of the Northwest Dallas neighborhood become alarmed any time they smell natural gas.

It was just about three miles south in February that 12-year-old Linda “Michellita” Rogers was killed by a gas explosion that destroyed her home. That prompted Atmos Energy to speed up replacement of older steel gas lines throughout the area.

“We’ve been keeping ourselves updated the best we can,” said resident Ryder Ansell. “If they tell us we have to evacuate, they will do that. But we haven’t heard anything yet.”

Some neighbors, like Debra McClung, don’t want to wait around until they’re told they have to evacuate.

“I think they need to notify people in case there is a leak anywhere,” she said. “I don’t care what time of day it is. And an explosion doesn’t wait until 2 o’clock in the afternoon when nobody’s home.”

As a grandmother, McClung says hearing about gas leaks from neighbors and not Atmos is unsettling.

“We need the assurance that if there is a leak, no matter how small they think it is, they need to notify all the residents around,” she said. “So that we can make the choice whether to leave or not.”

“It’s a concern.  That’s why I’ve asked for an interactive map where when we find a leak at this, we’ll put it on the map,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “It will be available on the website where people can see where the leaks are.”

Jenkins does not have any regulatory power over Atmos, but says he’s been trying to get the gas company be more transparent with their field operations.

“What I try to do, and I’ve worked on this since 2012 with Atmos, is to try and expedite those replacements and get more information out to the public,” he said.

The legislature meets in January. Jenkins says that’ll be an opportunity to see if the state legislature can improve the communication between gas customers and Atmos.