• Last modified 1169 days ago (March 9, 2016)


Gas leaks for a week

Staff writer

It took Atmos Energy officials a week to seal the leak in Nanette Lowry’s gas line after the meter was struck by a pickup truck — but Lowry spent that week wondering who would pay for the damage.

The gas meter was struck the evening of Feb. 25, causing emergency evacuation of the Lowry home and the Presbyterian Church across the alley. A week later, the meter still stood crooked and an odor of gas still wafted in the air.

At that time, Lowry hadn’t seen a written report on the accident, though she’d asked local police for one.

Marion Police Chief Tyler Mermis said the officer who responded to the scene hadn’t filled out a report at the time but will make a report as soon as he returns from a week’s training.

“I have seen or heard nothing from anybody,” Lowry said.

Lowry said after officials evacuated her house, she went to look at the meter and a woman she believed was an Atmos Energy employee told her “at least she didn’t hit the posts” around the meter.

Jim Bartling, director of public affairs for Atmos Energy, made aware a week after the incident that the gas was still leaking from the meter, said that he would check into the matter. When he returned a call, he denied the driver was an Atmos employee.

“I can tell you without qualification that no, it was not an Atmos employee who hit the meter,” Bartling said.

Bartling said it was not yet decided whether a repair would be made where the meter stood in the alley or whether the meter would be moved closer to the Lowry house — but the leak would be resolved that day.

“They have a crew on the way now and will determine whether they will move it up to the house or not, and it will be repaired tonight,” Bartling said on Thursday.

Atmos repairmen did close off the leak that day and told Lowry they would return the following week to replace the gas line leading to her house. They said the company would pay all costs, Lowry said.

Randy Dallke, town service operator for Atmos, said the woman whose pickup struck the meter is the wife of a former Atmos employee who is now dealing with major medical issues.

That’s why Atmos told Marion police no report would be needed, Dallke said.

“Why do we want to bill somebody who’s got enough problems?” Dallke said.

Dallke said whether to bill someone who damages a meter is a judgment call anyway. Sometimes a bill is sent and sometimes not.

Lowry said she understands the family whose pickup struck the meter is going through a rough time, but she’d have been happier about the whole thing if Atmos had not told police they didn’t need a report.

“It smacked of a cover-up,” Lowry said. “(Dallke) did not tell me until last week that they won’t charge us for it.”

Last modified March 9, 2016