Unregulated Gathering Pipelines Cause Death & Serious Injury in Texas

On August 9, 2018, a family’s life completely shifted when their Stanton home exploded into pieces. A pipeline a few yards from their front door was filling their mobile home with raw natural gas through a dime-size hole. The gas continued building until someone opened the dryer door, igniting the gas. Once it was over, very little of the house was left.

The entire family was left severely injured, including a three-year-old girl who was taken to a burn unit in Lubbock by helicopter. She died two days later. Her mother, father, and sister were badly burned in the explosion.

Gathering Pipeline Explosions

The state quickly dispatched inspectors, who discovered that the pipe’s anti-corrosion coating had been compromised. The inspectors also discovered that the pipe had been leaking for an extended length of time.

The line belongs to Targa Resources Corp., a $9.6 billion Houston company. The company isn’t facing any state or federal charges for the explosion. The company states that they didn’t violate any regulations because there aren’t any regulations for this type of pipeline, which are called “gathering lines.” Gathering lines are small pipelines that carry oil and gas from wellheads to processing sites.

Failure to Regulate Gathering Pipelines

The pipeline that caused the Stanton gas explosion was a part of a network of thousands of miles of pipes. There are more than 450,000 miles of gathering lines underground from wells nationwide. Federal and state organizations don't keep records on explosions from rural gathering lines. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), there are regulations for about 18,000 miles of gathering lines. However, there are another 439,000 miles of pipelines that are left unregulated, which is enough line to wrap around the Earth over 17 times. Texas is one of the many states that doesn’t regulate rural gathering lines. Texas alone has more than 14,000 miles of new rural gathering since 2014, plus 160,000 miles that already existed.

Unlike transmission lines, gathering lines don’t have to have emergency response plans for when they leak or explode. While the PHMSA and other state regulators are still trying to decide if they should regulate small pipelines like gathering lines, people continue to get hurt. Two people died in two gathering line explosions within weeks of the Stanton explosion in August. Both involved small pipes.

Experienced Pipeline Explosions Attorneys

Many companies like Targa Resources Corp. fail to maintain gathering pipelines that put many people in danger. Companies only change when the financial penalties for unsafe practices are too high to pay. Explosion injury attorneys have the power to make companies pay for the damage done to innocent people. Arnold & Itkin is alarmed that so much pipeline sitting underneath residential communities is allowed to go unregulated and without maintenance. State and federal authorities need to act as quickly as possible to make sure no one else dies from gathering line explosions.

If you were injured in an explosion, you deserve compensation for your injuries. The pipeline explosion lawyers from Arnold & Itkin have secured billions of dollars on behalf of our clients. Contact us today at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation.

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