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MAP: Where ‘problem’ Driscopipe 8000 gas lines failed in Arizona

Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 14, 2021

PHOENIX — The ABC15 Investigators obtained 34 lab reports showing where Driscopipe 8000 prematurely degraded leading to natural gas leaks in Arizona.

The reports, dating back to 2016, were submitted to the utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission earlier this fall by Southwest Gas.

Southwest Gas had admitted a previously unmapped Driscopipe 8000 stub leaked, leading to a natural gas explosion that injured four people at a Chandler strip mall in August.

One lab report from 2021 shows a leaking pipe discovered next to Perez's Auto Repair near 35th Avenue and Lincoln in southwest Phoenix.

"I think it’s very dangerous," auto repair business owner Ismael Perez said. "You can’t smell because there’s lots of smells around here.”

Southwest Gas officials have known for about a decade that Driscopipe 8000 gas lines, especially those holding stagnant gas, can prematurely degrade in the Arizona heat.

“These are like buried sticks of dynamite that can go off at any time,” said Tom Ryan, a lawyer representing two brothers who ran the Chandler print shop where the August explosion occurred.

ABC15 identified leak clusters in the lab reports. Four leaks in a single neighborhood, Golden Shores, in Topock, which is in northwestern Arizona. Three leaks were also found just blocks apart in the Yuma Foothills. Southwest Gas found those leaks and repaired them before there was an explosion.

The reports also indicate that Southwest Gas did not know seven of the 34 leak areas had Driscopipe 8000 running underground. They were noted as undetected or unmapped stubs in the reports.

“It should frighten every citizen in the state of Arizona that Southwest Gas does not know where these pipes are that are leaking gas,” Ryan said. “We cannot just simply say let's test and make sure there are no leaks; they have to remove it and replace it.”

The ABC15 Investigators called and emailed Arizona's corporation commissioners, who regulate utilities, to answer whether they will require Southwest Gas to do more to keep people safe. No commissioners responded.

Southwest Gas officials did comment about the lab reports in an emailed statement which said "99.6% of this pipe has not experienced a leak from 2018 until now.”

The company says of the more than 28,000 Driscopipe 8000 stubs identified in Arizona it has eliminated all but about 3,000. The gas company statement adds that driving leak patrols include checking lines that are "mapped or unmapped and are inclusive of all types of pipe."

Southwest Gas concluded it is "confident these mitigation strategies are working effectively."

Got a news tip? Email ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.