Dallas, TX – Texas Railroad Commission members on Tuesday approved requiring natural gas utilities to remove and replace non-restraint compression couplings on pipes.
The older connectors are blamed for allowing gas to seep into the home of an elderly Wylie couple whose house exploded last year. Earlier this year, two people were killed and three others injured when the couplings failed and let gas leak into a Cleburne home, records obtained by Dallas television station WFAA showed.
Utilities must replace the connectors within two years and must update the commission on their progress every six months, The Dallas Morning News reported in Tuesday’s online edition.
The measure was approved by a 2-1 vote. Commissioner Victor Carrillo voted against the measure, saying the commission should follow a rule-making process allowing public and utility comments instead of immediately forcing replacement of the couplings.
The commission released a report in March absolving Atmos Energy Co. of any blame in the Wylie explosion.
However, records dating to 1980 also show the non-restraint compression couplings have flaws that led to death and injury, the television station reported.
Benny and Martha Cryer were killed in October 2006 by the explosion that leveled their single-story home in the Collin County town of Wylie.
Hazel Sanderson and mother, Hazel Pawlick, died from injuries sustained in a May blast in Cleburne, about 30 miles south of Fort Worth. Although their home did not use natural gas, fire investigators discovered natural gas had seeped in but gone undetected.
Atmos has been replacing the couplings when they are found to be leaking. The utility has about 100,000 couplings in use in North Texas.
Atmos officials said they will comply with whatever standards are approved.