As gas leaks continue, neighbors think Atmos should expand outage zone

Atmos crews are working to fix leaks in an area just outside the zone where Atmos is replacing gas lines. Neighbors want the zone expanded.

DALLAS – Just outside Gary Bush's home in Northwest Dallas, Atmos crews are working to fix a gas leak.

His home lies just outside the area where Atmos has shut off gas to replace lines at 2,800 homes after a series of fires, evacuations, and a deadly explosion.

Bush, and other neighbors believe the outage zone should be expanded to include their neighborhood, Royal Chapel Estates, just west of Webb Chapel Drive, north of Walnut Hill Lane, and south of Royal Lane.

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The homes, mostly built in the 1950s, are likely to have older, steel pipe unless the gas lines had been replaced.

Neighbors say, in the last two weeks, multiple leaks have popped up in their neighborhood.

Atmos crews have been working to address them. A crew worked in the alley behind homes at Dundee and Waldrop on Wednesday. An elementary school is a few blocks away.

One worker told WFAA off camera “As soon as we fix three leaks, five more pop up.”

With similar lines and soil of the area Atmos is focusing on, neighbors believe the problems may be bigger than the current outage zone.

“They have no problem accepting money, but they're not servicing our equipment, so it's pretty sad,” said Sarah Sullivan, a new mom who lives in the area.

Sullivan said Atmos fixed a leak at her home when she smelled gas a few months ago, but she worries about her neighbors and believes the company should be more proactive in checking and replacing aging lines in older neighborhoods.

Down the street, neighbor Gary Bush said he decided to take matters into his own hands. He called a plumber to check the lines leading from the meter to his house, which are the homeowner’s responsibility.

“I think at this point, they're so far behind I wouldn't depend on Atmos to show up,” said Bush.

Starko Plumbing found several leaks, and Bush will have to replace the aging steel lines under his home.

In the last three days, Starko Plumbing has found leaks at seven of the nine homes they’ve been asked to check in the area, said owner Brian Starnes.

Neighbors are worried there could be similar leaks in the lines for which Atmos is responsible, running from the meter, away from their homes.

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They believe they have their neighborhood has similar pipes, soil, and problems to the area just to their southeast, where Atmos is replacing lines.

Neighbors believe the company should expand the outage zone to include their homes instead of just fixing each leak as it pops up.

“Honestly, people's lives. This is something that a small spark can cause a big problem,” said Bush, when asked about his biggest concern.

“They should be coming in and checking all of these neighborhoods. I mean, when is the last time they checked these old houses out?” asked Sullivan.

WFAA reached out to Atmos to get details on what the work being done and leaks found in the Royal Chapel Estates neighborhood, whether they’re considering expanding the outage zone, and the possible criteria they might consider in making that decision.

A spokesperson responded that the company is looking into the questions, but would not be able to immediately respond because their focus is on the outage zone.