Dallas, Texas (June 8, 2011) - Investigators for the Texas Railroad Commission have begun investigating complaints of "numerous seriously defective and dangerous conditions" along a 36-inch, high-pressure, natural-gas pipeline that runs through five Texas counties, including Grimes and Robertson.
The 7-year-old pipeline, known as the "ETC 36 Extension (Bossier System)," runs from the town of Oletha in Limestone County southward across Leon, Madison and Robertson counties into Grimes County.
"Our investigation uncovered conditions that manifest themselves as immediate safety and environmental hazards," said William R. Keffer, one of the attorneys who filed the complaint with the Railroad Commission. Keffer helped supervise the investigation and is an expert on pipeline-safety issues. "Our findings are based on experts walking significant portions of the pipeline and identifying numerous serious deficiencies."
"Incidents of pipelines being compromised or failing are constantly in the news," said J. Randall Miller, who with Keffer is representing landowners whose property has been impacted by the pipeline. "Our investigation has uncovered issues that need to be addressed in a timely manner to avoid a tragedy. In one instance, the pipeline is exposed within site of a state highway that carries children to school."
"The Railroad Commission's decision to send inspectors to review our findings along the pipeline is an important first step in protecting the people who work and live along the pipeline," said Keffer.
According to a complaint filed on behalf of landowners whose property was used as a right-of-way for the pipeline, "it became apparent that certain conditions are recurring along this line's right-of-way...and call into question the overall quality and condition of this relatively new pipeline."
Among the problems listed in the complaint are:
• This high-pressure gas line is at the surface instead of being buried at least three feet deep for public safety
• There is inadequate depth of cover over the line, leaving it vulnerable to damage and explosion from excavation or other soil penetration
• Sinkholes expose the line beneath the ground surface and are a hazard
• Linear cracking along the ground indicates inadequate soil compaction above the line, which will lead to the formation of additional sinkholes exposing the line
• There are inaccurate or absent markers identifying the line's location
Attorneys for the landowners have provided Railroad Commission investigators with maps, photographs, and specific locations of many of the dangerous conditions existing along the pipeline's right-of-way. The Railroad Commission's investigation is still in progress.