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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Danger Zone

Friday, July 6, 2012 around 4:30 p.m.

Good grief.  This man is digging dangerously close to gas gathering pipelines at the Fulson Drill Site in Arlington, Texas.  Since those homes in the background (look beyond the gas gathering pipeline marker) are very close, we would not want him to accidentally strike a gas line and blow up the community.  

While trees are a wonderful asset to most settings and great for the environment,  we wonder why these trees are being planted so close to gas gathering pipelines which transport unodorized gas through our communities? In an effort to make these industrial drill sites look as aesthetically pleasing as possible, are we setting ourselves up for another public safety risk? 

Question:  Should trees ever be planted in close proximity to gas gathering pipelines?  A representative from the Railroad Commission of Texas told us yesterday that the State of Texas has no spacing requirements for the planting of trees near natural gas pipelines.  Other areas of the world do have spacing requirements.  

We know that mature tree roots have been known to damage foundations of homes and lift up sidewalks.  Likewise, they can cause serious damage to natural gas pipelines.
CLICK HERE and scroll down a little to see an illustration of this. 

If planning to dig,  Call 811.  This Call Center notifies all the utilities for you so they can come out and mark the location of the utility lines.   However, gas gathering pipelines are very unique from other utilities.  Questions are being raised about whether these pipelines are for the public good or for industry.  To add to this, these thousands of miles of gas gathering pipelines are regulated by a small number of inspectors at the Railroad Commission of Texas. 

Now, this is where a problem arises.   In this particular case, it has come to our attention that as of June 4, 2012,  DFW Midstreams failed to turn in Completion Paperwork to the Railroad Commission for these particular gas gathering lines at the Fulson Drill Site.  According to a Railroad Commission of Texas representative, their records show the current status of these lines as "In Construction Phase" with a Start Date of "October 2009".  Well, that's not good.
A complaint  was filed with the Texas Railroad Commission over a month ago.  It is still under investigation. 

Ironically, while following up with the Railroad Commission on the status of this complaint, we have learned that our local inspectors are at this very moment in Austin for a week-long Pipeline Safety Meeting!   We hope and pray they are able to straighten out this mess since many of us are living at ground zero.   One mistake can have deadly consequences.

Meanwhile, men are digging trenches over here.   


  1. I indefinitely believe that there should be a space requirement between planted trees and pipelines. The force of a grand ol' tree's roots trying to push up or away to the side is way greater then any metal pipe thats been wearing away underground for years. Jeez, go green already people.

    -Carlos Hernandez

  2. @Tree Pruning: These are issues that are long-term. Unfortunately, with all of this, long-term planning has not been on the Agenda in our North Texas communities. When money was and is thrown around to get everybody "on board," there should be a big WARNING sign flashing. In Texas, our state ignores us and our cities have had to figure it out as they go. It's a mess.

  3. I can't tell if the yellow flag is from an 811 locate before the digging, or from something else. I'm puzzled about the jug on a stick's purpose. Yes, you can damage a pipeline's coating with hand tools, and even dent the line. A tree planter in Odessa TX failed to call for a locate when installing trees in 1983, & hit an LPG pipeline with a power auger. 5 people were killed there when the gas ignited a few minutes after the rupture.

    Tree root damage to pipeline coatings is the biggest issue of trees near pipelines. On the other hand, some pipelines feel a tree 40 feet from a pipeline is too close, which could be a stretch for some small types of trees being a danger to a pipeline.

    DFW Midstream failing to turn in Completion Paperwork could be a serious Legal & Civil liability if those lines don't get into the 811 system.