A worker who suffered burns and other injuries in the deadly June 7 gas line explosion east of Glen Rose has filed a lawsuit against the Houston-based owner of the pipeline, claiming it didn't properly mark the line and alert workers of its location.
One man, James Neese, a father of seven children, was killed in the blast. Seven others were injured. Those treated at Glen Rose Medical Center have all been released, said Gary Marks, the medical center's chief executive officer.
The injured worker flown to a Fort Worth hospital by the Air Evac Lifeteam in Glen Rose, electrical technician Corey S. Gautreaux, filed the suit in Harris County. He and his family are being represented by the Lanier Law Firm in Houston.
Gautreaux is in the first stages of recovery following the accident, which his lawyers said left him severely burned on his neck, arms and back. He also received blunt force injuries.
"Corey is suffering pretty badly right now, and he and his family want answers," attorney Mark Lanier said. "We've just started our investigation, but I can tell you already that this looks like it was a very preventable catastrophe. What makes it so sad is that several people were seriously hurt and at least one life was lost simply because proper safety procedures weren't followed."
The lawsuit filed in the 295th District Court in Harris County against Enterprise Products Partners L.P. in Houston includes claims of negligence and gross negligence. The suit alleges the company failed to properly mark its gas lines and failing to warn workers where the lines were located.
Enterprise Products Partners could not be reached for comment.
The deadly explosion occurred shortly before 3 p.m. at Georges Creek Ranch between Cleburne and Granbury. Gautreaux was part of a crew installing electric utility poles for Dewey, Okla.-based C&H Power Line Construction Co. when the 36-inch natural gas pipeline owned by Enterprise Product Partners exploded.
The force of the blast created a deep crater, scorched acres of land and sent up a fireball that could be seen from at least 30 miles away. Investigators are working to determine the accident's cause. Enterprise Products Partners said it has finished repairs to its portion of the natural gas pipeline damaged by the explosion and has resumed operations on the pipeline.
So called “third-party” damage incidents, typically caused when someone is excavating or digging into pipelines, last year accounted for 9,660 accidents reported to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates Texas' network of buried gas pipelines. The state has about 270,000 miles of pipeline, the largest number of any state, according to the commission.
To try to prevent third-party incidents, Texas law requires anyone who is planning to dig, from contractors to homeowners, to call 811 at least 48 hours before digging to have underground natural gas pipelines, as well as other underground utilities, such as sewer and electric, marked. The service is free.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams has said that C&H Power Line Construction had called the commission to request information about gas pipelines in the area before the accident. In addition to those preliminary reporters, investigators are also looking into whether the pipeline operator had correctly marked the underground pipeline.
The commission's final report on its investigation is expected to be completed in a month or two.