Jeana Cole’s mother-in-law thought an earthquake had struck their family home in south Arlington on Monday. Wrong — the window-rattling tremors and noise were from the heavy-equipment crews building a natural gas pipeline in a utlity right-of-way just beyond the neighborhood’s backyard fences.
A group of residents there are already in the middle of a contentious lawsuit, battling DFW Midstream’s use of eminent domain to seize the easement behind their properties for what will be one of several large gathering pipelines in the Arlington area.
Cole, a member of the North Central Texas Communities Alliance advisory council, said the commotion this week has been hard on her husband’s mother. “She’s elderly and has health issues, so it’s not good for her to get worked up,” Cole said. “I had to show her the men working outside before she believed it wasn’t an earthquake.”
Besides the noise complaints, neighbors have been less than thrilled with the activities of the pipeline workers, who don’t mind relieving themselves au naturel, and, according to residents, cutting corners on safety practices.
It didn’t help matters that on-site company representatives told complaining residents that there was nothing they could do — that the workers were on private property and “untouchable,” Cole said. Residents said the “untouchable” mind-set dissipated quickly when OSHA inspectors arrived at the site, causing workers to scramble for safety equipment and gear.
A further way the crews endeared themselves: They inadvertently cut phone lines, then hastily patched them back together, a problem that then had to fixed correctly by AT&T crews.
Cole said some of the complaints are minor but that the small issues have left residents worried that critical safety practices perhaps are being compromised as well.
Another recent revelation has multiplied those fears: Cole said that, after she and her neighbors were assured by city officials and DFW Midstream representatives that the gas flowing through the pipeline would be odorized, they learned that’s not the case. That means any leaks just outside their fences won’t be detectable by smell.
A DFW Midstream spokesperson said the reversal on that decision came after “strong consideration” by the company determined that adding odorants wasn’t feasible due to technical limitations.
But hey — company officials promised residents they’re taking every possible precaution to minimize risk and disturbances due to the pipeline. Yes, and bankers are all working for you, drive-by asphalt crews are all honest, and really folks, there’s no downside to the Barnett Shale boom. Trust us.