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UTEP Engineers: Aging gas lines are ticking time bomb

By: Ruben Veloz
EL PASO, Texas -- Texas Ranks 11th in the state by the Department of Transportation when it comes to how many cast iron gas pipelines that still remain buried underneath the ground.
According to the DOT there are 892 miles of cast iron pipes still in use by the state of Texas, nearly 33% of the nations 30,000 miles of old gas pipelines that still remain. 
Experts say it is a reminder that our nations infrastructure is getting old and antiquated.
"Most of the old pipes in the United States are more than 60 years old, said Ahsan Choudhuri, PH.D, Chair and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas El Paso, those are made out of wrought iron and cast iron and over time they degrade.

Choudhuri told KFOX14 many of El Pasos older neighborhoods are lined with cast iron pipes and could be dangerous if there is no plan to replace them in the future.
"They are not safe, they are not at all safe and we need to look into it very, very carefully, said Choudhuri.
KFOX14 reached out to Texas gas service for questions about the safety of El Pasos gas system but denied our request for an interview; however they did provide this statement:
The pipe material used in the past was steel and cast iron pipe.  Texas Gas Service currently installs Polyethylene pipe for most installations as is commonly used within the natural gas industry. Texas Gas Service conducts routine inspections on its distribution system to ensure the integrity of our system and safety of our customers.  Texas Gas Service is regulated by the Railroad Commission of Texas.  The Railroad Commission conducts compliance audits on our distribution system on a yearly basis to ensure the safety of the general public.
Since 2004, the Department of Transportation says the number of cast iron gas lines has decreased nearly 70 percent around the country and replaced with new polyethylene pipe, however experts say many U.S. utility companies are struggling to maintain or replace antiquated, leaky gas mains because some are hard to reach.
"Our country needs a serious upgrade of infrastructure, and in the country the whole country has many areas of gas pipelines or surface based pipelines that are older and need to be replaced, said Choudhuri.
KFOX14 asked if there were any areas of El Paso that need to have their pipelines replaced, but only told the station that the system is safe.

For more information about Cast Iron gas lines visit the Department of Transportation website at this link: http://opsweb.phmsa.dot.gov/pipeline_replacement/cast_iron_inventory.asp#what_causes