GEORGETOWN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - State emergency managers are not actively involved in the Georgetown gas leak crisis, because no formal Emergency Declaration has been made from Williamson County.
As of Tuesday no formal statement has been made by Governor Greg Abbott. Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell would like for state leaders to take notice of what’s happening and said he understands the frustration with how long the cleanup is taking.
"We're now at 30 days, and it may be time for somebody from the outside to come in and offer a different view on how to mitigate the problem and then how do we help these residents and these businesses get back in their place of business, it may be time,” said Judge Gravell.
A formal emergency declaration, according to Judge Gravell has not been made because he's waiting for a request from the mayor of Georgetown. Gravell said the unique situation that’s in play has made it difficult for all the parties involved to determine what procedure to follow.
"Part of the crickets you are hearing is ... for a poor analogy, it's like a brand new calf looking through a new gate, they've never walked through that gate before and don’t know what to do,” said Gravell.
The gas leak was discovered February 20th. Clearing out the pockets of gas is currently being left up to Atmos Energy. That's a problem for Judge Gravell.
"It’s never a bad thing to bring in an outside voice to help,” said Gravell.
Atmos is regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission which is located in an office complex just north of the state capitol. In a statement sent to FOX7 Austin News spokesperson Ramona Nye made three points;
"The Commission's pipeline safety investigation into this incident is ongoing. " The agency is, "monitoring the situation to ensure Atmos is complying with agency rules," and, "the RRC will also determine if Atmos was in violation of RRC rules resulting in the leaks,” said Nye.
State Senator Charles Schwertner represents those who live and work in the Georgetown evacuation zone. He was unavailable for an on camera interview but in a statement said;
"I have been closely monitoring this situation since I first learned of the Atmos gas leak in Georgetown, and my staff has been in weekly contact with the city, Atmos Energy, and representatives of the Texas Railroad Commission."
Senator Schwertner has not called for any legislative Hearings into the incident, but stated;
"Once the leak has been contained and residents and business owners can return to their daily lives, we will begin delving into how this happened, and hold those responsible accountable."
Late Tuesday, State Rep. James Talarico, ( D ) who represents the Southern part of Georgetown issued the following statement;
“The ATMOS Energy gas leak in Georgetown creates a number of issues for the people in District 52. With businesses being closed and homes being evacuated, citizens of Georgetown are falling behind on payments and being forced into hotels until the leak is resolved. The leak was reported on February 20 and within minutes ATMOS Energy was on site working to resolve the issue. Our office is in contact with ATMOS Energy and Williamson County Emergency Services working to ensure that the problem is handled safely and quickly.”
The focus remains on when the evacuation order will be lifted. A question state and local officials admit, at this time, they can't answer.