Federal regulators revealed new natural gas safety recommendations just shy of three years since a deadly home explosion in Dallas killed a child.
On the morning of Feb. 23, 2018, a video recorded by 12-year-old Linda ‘Michelita’ Rogers showed her up and excitedly getting ready for a cheerleading competition when disaster strikes. The girl’s home had unknowingly filled with natural gas and exploded, killing her and injuring her family.
The tragedy that struck the Rogers family came within weeks of two other home explosions in their neighborhood.
“The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable safety cause of the explosion at 3534 Espanola Drive was the ignition of an accumulation of natural gas that leaked from a gas main that was damaged during a sewer replacement project 23 years earlier and was undetected by ATMOS Energy Corporation’s investigation of two related natural gas incidents on the two days prior to the explosion,” the National Transportation Safety Board said in a probable cause statement Tuesday.
The NTSB then questioned why Atmos didn’t shut off the gas in the neighborhood more quickly as well as their investigation protocols.
“Contributing to the explosion was ATMOS Energy Corporation’s insufficient wet weather leak investigation procedures. Contributing to the severity of the explosion was ATMOS Energy Corporation’s inaction to isolate the effected main and evacuate the houses. Contributing to the degradation of the pipeline system was ATMOS Energy Corporation’s inadequate integrity program,” the NTSB said.
The board recommended changes to federal reporting requirements that might have helped raise a red flag. It called for a state and federal audit of Atmos’ reporting practices and emergency response procedures as well as better training and investigation requirements.
This Sunday marks two years since a gas leak triggered an explosion inside a Northwest Dallas home, killing 12-year-old Linda “Michelita” Rogers.
They also looked at Dallas Fire-Rescue’s response, advising they need better training on investigations and monitoring related to natural gas.
“It has been said that although action without knowledge is insanity, knowledge without action is just daydreaming. I hope that the knowledge gained in this investigation results in action,” said Robert L. Sumwalt, chairman of the NTSB, in a closing statement.
Because the smell added to the natural gas was filtered out in the soil residents were unable to detect the natural gas on their own. The NTSB also recommended homeowners install methane detectors.
Rogers’ family settled a wrongful death suit in May 2019 where they sought at least $1 million in damages. The amount they decided, in the end, was not made public. Five other families sued Atmos in February 2020 claiming the gas company was negligent.
NBC 5 has reached out to Atmos about the new natural gas safety recommendations. The said “Our number one…
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