Miles of cast iron gas pipes are corroding near our homes

WFAA-TV's Brett Shipp

WFAA-TV’s Brett Shipp

More than 800 miles of corroding cast iron gas main pipes wind through the soil leading to and from many neighborhood homes and alleys, according to news reported on WFAA-TV Channel 8. In September 2011, a damaged cast iron pipe leaking natural gas exploded in Oak Cliff, hospitalizing a woman and her five-year-old son for weeks with critical injuries and burns suffered in the explosion.

WFAA reporter Brett Shipp says Atmos Energy, which owns the cast iron gas mains, is aware of the locations but hasn’t been eager to provide them to the media. So Channel 8 mapped public records of gas leaks and repairs, providing a pretty good indication of where the pipes are located. My understanding of the situation is that Atmos is responsible for repairing/replacing gas mains in public areas such as alleys, while homeowners are responsible for the replacement/repair cost from the alley to the house.

There’s also a great interactive map feature accompanying the story that allows you to zoom into an area and click on dots that indicate pipe repairs for additional details, as well as an option to type in an address to pull up information in and around it. You may not be eager to find out how close this issue may hit to home, and there’s nothing sexy or even fulfilling about digging up and paying for replacement of aging pipe in your backyard. But far better to discover the problem now before anything really bad happens.

We had a leaking cast iron gas pipe leading from the alley to our house replaced probably 15 years ago; I smelled natural gas outside the home as I was leaving for an out-of-town trip. I reported it to the gas company, which promptly shut off the gas and wouldn’t turn it back on until the leak had been repaired, which involved digging up the cast iron pipe all the way from the house to the alley and replacing it. I managed the process from afar while my wife took care of our two young sons, who just happened to catch the flu (complete with upchuck action) while I was gone and while there was no gas-fired hot water in the house. I still hear about that lost week from time to time.


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  • Voter

    What government organization did we set up to regulate Atmos’s actions affecting us?  Who did we elect that has authority over the goverment organization?

  • Tuckspub

    I walk my dog daily and about four months ago I called in leaking gas on the North East side of Colorado at N. Clinton, you could smell it as you walked along the sidewalk. They came out immediately and dug it up the same day, but it makes you wonder how many other leaks are there along Colorado.

  • Leonard Ellis

    The map found through the link at wfaa.com is not current.  We had a leak in the main line that runs underneath our parkway along the north side of Colorado just west of Winnetka that is not shown.  I noticed the smell when dragging the garbage & recycling bins to the curb last month, called ATMOS immediately, they came out and put some sort of enclosure on the main.  Left a mess in the parkway & I think they damaged the sprinkler system too.

  • Good point, Metroretrows. It turned out the leak on my property was from pipe encased in the home’s cement foundation, so not only did the entire line have to be dug up and replaced, it also had to be re-routed under the house. As you mentioned, it was pretty expensive, particularly for something like gas service, which I had kind of been taking for granted — until then.

  • Metroretrows

    Atmos will replace their portion of the lines, but as you stated…the lines to your house and under your house are your responsibility to hire a plumber and have the lines replaced. This happened to us and until we had the money to pay for replacement (appx. 1500.) the gas meter was turned off and we had no heat, stove, dryer or hot water for 3 months! When Atmos heads that way for repairs, start saving up some extra cash!