The High Five
2:19 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Investigation Finds Atmos Has Not Replaced Gas Pipes Made Of 'Obsolete' Material

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Find out if cast iron gas lines exist near you, watch 'Erasing The Stigma: Mental Illness And The Search For Solutions' on Channel 13 tonight, imagine another push for affordable artists housing in Dallas and more.

Domingo Mendez, his wife Juliana and their son Pablo, 5, barely survived after their Oak Cliff home exploded in the summer of 2011. Lightning was originally deemed the cause. The Texas Railroad Commission looked into it and issued a violation notice to Atmos Energy, based in Dallas. Turns out the the gas pipes that ran through their home were made of cast iron, WFAA's investigative team reports.

The National Transportation Board flagged the material as susceptible to corrosion and advised providers to "take necessary action" -- in 1973.  More warnings rolled out over the next few decades, with the NTSB calling for a full replacement program in the early '90s.

Atmos still has more than 800 miles of cast-iron lines, according to WFAA's investigation. An interactive map shows where 2,300 leaking cast-iron pipes have been repaired since 2009. Dallas and Fort Worth proper see a high concentration, but the 'burbs are not immune: leaks in Plano, Rowlett, Mesquite, Arlington and other cities were found.

  • Tonight, the Erasing The Stigma mental health forum at City Performance Hall airs on Channel 13 at 8 p.m. The discussion about how to better fund mental health and create better access to solutions  has continued in earnest since that night. Morning Edition host Sam Baker interviewed panelist Vanita Halliburton, whose son took his own life at age 19, about warning signs that mental illness may be snapping at your child or teen -- and what to do about it.
  • Art&Seek's Stephen Becker already told us about ArtSpace, which wants to partner with the City of Dallas to create housing artists can afford so they'll stick around and make the city more livable. Well, Dallas nonprofit arts group La Reunion TX is seeking grant money for a six-story building on Flora Street right in the middle of the Arts District. Architect Robert Meckfessel of the organization hopes 39 manageably priced units would rent for $360 to $790. [Dallas Morning News Art&Seek]
  • Russian officials and journalists are expressing public outrage over the death of 3-year-old Max Shatto. The boy was adopted from the country by Laura and Alan Shatto of Gardendale, a town in West Texas. State officials are hesitating to comment before an investigation into Max's adopted parents' role in his death is complete. [NY Times]