Russell McElyea is suing Atmos Energy Corporation after being severely burned when his friend's home exploded due to a gas leak. On May 14, 2017, Mr. McElyea was visiting his friend Raul Pedroza at his home in Stephenville, Texas. Mr. Pedroza was preparing lunch when he lit his stove, causing the house to explode in a gaseous fireball. McElyea managed to grab Pedroza and drag him out the front door just before an additional explosion occurred in the home. McElyea suffered burns to his face and arms and even went into a coma shortly after the incident. Pedroza sustained serious burns to more than 70 percent of his body, eventually succumbing to his wounds. According to the lawsuit, Atmos failed to properly warn Pedroza and himself of the dangers associated with gas leaks.
Delaney Tercero, 3, was killed in August of 2018 when a nearby pipeline leaked natural gas into her family's house, resulting in an explosion that injured the entire family and destroyed their home. The state sent investigators to determine if the owners of the pipeline had violated any rules and to discover the cause of the leak. Investigators discovered that the pipeline's anti-corrosion coating had failed and the pipeline had been leaking for "an undetermined length of time." However, investigators found that Targa Resources Corp., the company that owns the pipeline, didn't violate any rules because there are no rules or regulations for this type of pipeline.
Natural gas has become a modern-day convenience that most of us can't seem to live without. Used for everything from heating, cooking, and electricity generation, this ubiquitous fuel source has woven itself into our every day lives and infrastructure. Unfortunately for many places in Texas, that weaving of natural gas pipelines happened many decades ago and we have built our homes and cities around these inherently dangerous gas meters without much afterthought of how society will flow around them.