March 8, 2019 — A growing number of people have died or suffered severe injuries after small gas pipelines called “gathering lines” have leaked or exploded.
Despite decades of talk among industry representatives and regulators, there are still no rules and oil companies go unpunished after horrific explosions.
One of the most tragic incidents occurred in August 2018 outside Midland, Texas, when a young girl died of severe burn injuries after an oil pipeline exploded and completely destroyed her home.
Delaney Tercero, 3, passed away at a burn unit in Lubbock, Texas, on August 11, 2018. Three other members of her family were also seriously injured in the explosion.
Authorities believe that a gas pipeline leaked under the home and a pocket of gas accumulated underneath the home. The mother was doing laundry and when she turned on the dryer, the home exploded.
Midland County Sherrif Gary Painter said that the pipeline was older and rusted to the point that it was no longer safe:
“For a home to be obliterated like this, it’s just amazing. The power of compressed gas, the power of propane when it gets into a closed area, and it finds an ignition point, it is a bomb. And it’s exactly what happened here.”
State inspectors confirmed that the pipeline’s anti-corrosion coating had been “compromised” and it had been leaking for some time.
Even so, Targa Resources Corp., the $9.6 billion Texas oil company that owns the pipeline, faced no penalty from state or federal officials because this type of pipeline — called a “gathering line” — is not regulated with the same rules as larger long-haul pipelines. Gathering lines aren’t subject to federal regulations, and Texas does not monitor the pipelines.
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