Texas Gas Service responds to violations involving explosion

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by ANDY PIERROTTI / KVUE News and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY and producer SANDRA BARRY

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndyP_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 7:50 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 8:01 PM

AUSTIN -- More than a month after the state found three violations involving the site of a deadly gas explosion, the Texas Gas Service issued its response Friday.

In January, a gas explosion killed Renald Ferrovecchio at his home about six weeks after he reported smelling gas to the company.
 
After an investigation, the state cited the Texas Gas Service for three violations this past July. The state discovered the initial leak Ferrovecchio reported was later “downgraded by a Texas Gas Service personnel not present at the site.” The report also found that the “leak was rescheduled for repair, but was not monitored to ensure it remained non-hazardous.”
 
Friday, the company responded to the violation. It argues the on-site technician did make the final call. It claims the technician “was making a judgment on the side of safety” until he could check with a supervisor before downgrading it.
 
Ferrovecchio’s neighbor, Jack Graves, doesn’t think the company’s response is adequate. “It’s still a little bit confusing to me how they can respond like that. I don’t know how you can grade that anything, but come out and fix it."

The state also found the company did not immediately test the underground pipe after the explosion to determine what went wrong.
 
Just two days ago, the company turned the cast-iron pipe over to a lab for testing. It claims the pipe “constituted a piece of evidence” that needs to be preserved before tests destroyed its integrity.
 
The KVUE Defenders discovered 32 miles of similar pipe run underground throughout the Austin area, but state agencies nor the company will disclose where those pipes are located.
 
“All of this makes me a little bit nervous,” said Graves, whose home was heavily damaged by the explosion.
 
While Graves wants to eventually see his neighbor’s home leveled, he says it serves at a warning sign to others. “People need to see what can happen,” he said.
 
The state also required Texas Gas Service to provide a plan of corrective action to prevent similar accidents. The company says it plans to provide more training to inspectors in particular when it involves explaining why it reclassifies pipeline gas leaks.
 
The Texas Railroad Commission says its pipeline safety staff will review Texas Gas Service's plan of correction and determine if it is acceptable.
 
The civil lawsuit is scheduled for May 6, 2013.
 

 

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