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San Benito Man Asks Why He Wasn't Informed About Pipeline

3 years 8 months 3 weeks ago Monday, January 29 2018 Jan 29, 2018 January 29, 2018 5:16 PM January 29, 2018 in News

NEAR SAN BENITO – A Rio Grande Valley man is concerned a pipeline being installed near his home is a danger to his family. He says he only learned Monday it will carry natural gas.

Abel Mora is caring for his wife and grandson in a rural San Benito home. He wants his family to live in a safe environment.

Mora's called the home his place of peace for the past 20 years.

"It's a nice area. It's a quiet area here," he says.

Mora tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS about a month ago, he was shocked to see construction crews on a major project a block away.

He says he saw crews installing a pipeline and claims he never received notice.

"All of the sudden, we have these pipes coming in and all over the place. We don't get any kind of information,” he says. “Are they dangerous? Are they going to pose a problem to our water supply or is there a chance of an explosion?"

Mora says we were the first to tell him the pipeline will be transporting natural gas.  He wants to know if it can cause his family harm.

"It's cutting across a lot of properties here and it's close to a lot of residential areas here. So it would have been nice to have received some kind of notification, a mailing or something," he adds.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS did some digging and learned the natural gas pipeline in the San Benito area is part of the much larger 168-mile pipeline project that will cross part of the Valley.

The pipeline will carry natural gas from Nueces County to Brownsville, then offshore to the U.S.-Mexico border.

We reached out to the Texas Railroad Commission to ask if the Mora family should be concerned about the safety of the pipeline.

A spokesperson for the group, Ramona Nye, spoke with us off-camera. She says, "protection of public safety and natural resources is the railroad commission's highest priority. Pipeline operators are required to build and operate their pipelines in compliance with state and federal pipeline safety rules."

A spokesperson for the Valley Crossing Pipeline says those who live near were supposed to be notified of the pipeline in December 2015. He also notes there is no state or federal law stating Mora had to be notified.

"I'm not familiar with the landowner you're speaking of, but I can tell you we have individuals in that area who work directly with members of the community to inform them of the work we have done," says Devin Hotzel with the Valley Crossing Pipeline project.

Hotzel says Enbridge, the company heading up the Valley Crossing Pipeline project, is taking several steps to assure the safety of Mora's family and his neighbors.

"We'll have a team of individuals who live and work in the area. Their sole purpose is to operate the pipeline and ensure it’s operated safely," he says. "Additionally, once the pipeline is operating, it will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week year-round."

Hotzel adds the installation of the pipeline is done in a way that ensures the natural gas will not impact water service in Mora's neighborhood. He also says a pipeline explosion is highly unlikely due to safety measures in its installation.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the U.S. Department of Interior about who Mora can call if he has concerns about the pipeline.

A spokesperson for the group says he can call the Interior Department's main line at 202-208-3100.

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