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nakdthoughts
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Between the Lines


0 posted 05-08-2003 10:28 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts


A few years ago, I was awakened by the gas company and had to let them into my basement to take some readings. They occassionally  come by the streets with a meter that informs them of gas leaks.


My neighbor across the street had the leak and although he was uphill from me, for some reason the  readings were the highest in my basement. They dug holes in my yard close to my  porch wall and  then dug open the street about double the size of a grave.

It took them  over 12 hours of pumping to release enough of the gas that they thought it safe enough to then  close it up the next morning and patch the hole.

Within a year, one of my Maple trees in the backyard died. We had had a weird winter of snow and lightning storms, so I thought maybe it had been struck. It cost me over $1000 to have it cut down and I put a sistern ( think that's what those pipes are called)over it and made the  base become a planter since it would have cost more to take out the roots and trunk. In the meantime, my favorite Maple tree next to my house and closest to the street where they dug, had begun to die off, one large section at a time.

So last year I contacted the gas company and asked for someone to come out and look at it. The tree service that cut the other tree for me told me that gas could kill a tree easily and since both my back trees showed the signs he suggested I contact the gas company about getting reimbursed. Sure...

I called  them to come out, and one of them told me he had to talk to his boss, but he found no traces of gas still in my grounds. I wanted them to possibly cut out the dead..but when he returned, he told me his boss said that because 18 months had passed, he couldn't do a thing.

I waited to see how bad it would be this year..and another section has died. My idea now is to draw attention to it (as if  people don't look at it anyway, since I am on a corner and everyone notices everything here in this small town)I plan to maybe paint the dead branches white and since I do craft shows etc.. make bird houses and hang them from it and then make some country signs saying ..

"This is what happens when Columbia Gas has a leak"  and then notify the local papers and the local tv station to get the story more exposure.

What do you think my chances are of getting them to pay for the trimming of the dead or the removal of the tree?
Here is a picture of that tree..taken last spring..and now another main branch has died.

M




[This message has been edited by nakdthoughts (05-08-2003 10:31 AM).]

Poet deVine
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1 posted 05-08-2003 10:44 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Get a sample of the soil and take it to someone to test (send it off to a state lab if you have to). You need to be really sure that there is gas in the soil that is causing this otherwise you could be liable for a lawsuit from the Gas Company.
nakdthoughts
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2 posted 05-08-2003 11:09 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

but Sharon, the hole in the street is not even 4 feet away from this tree and is about 8 ft by 12, and was at least 3-5 feet deep. Because it is an older tree, its roots are deeper...so it would take longer for it to die...
   The soil will no longer show signs of gas, at least that is what the gas company man said...but they didn't deny it was their fault, just that too much time had passed...It was fall when it happened so of course the leaves were off the tree, so there was no way I would know till a year later if it was damaged by them...and I wanted to give it a chance to come back.

I don't think I could be in trouble  legally, it is my property and the signs are telling the truth.

I lost 4 trees in front of my house over 20 years ago because the electric company sends people yearly to cut those trees drastically from near the lines. I  made them come out when they died and they replaced them with new smaller, slower growing trees which most people don't know about.
The problem with big business is...if they can thwart you by saying "no" the first time, they figure they have won. But if you complain enough, they will eventually do what they should have done from the start.

The proof is in their records...

M..I am thinking of calling them first to tell them what I plan to do..then see what their reaction is...12 hours  of a  strong gas leak in my home and those grounds  where the tree is...I am sure did the damage. If it wasn't healthy for me to be in my own home, what about a live tree soaking up gas fumes.

[This message has been edited by nakdthoughts (05-08-2003 11:18 AM).]

Sunshine
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3 posted 05-08-2003 11:17 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Giving them a heads up as to your plan will, at the very least, truly get their attention.  They could not come back and say you blind-sided them.

However, "natural gas" being what it is, they could always say this was an "Act of God" which would preclude their omission of acts and justify any insurance company from  covering same.

What you might want to do to "mitigate" this is to also ask them at the same time how they intend to keep this incident from continuing to seep through the grounds towards your remaining plants and trees [as well as the neighbors] so that they don't lose their shrubs and bushes and trees as well.
nakdthoughts
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4 posted 05-08-2003 11:29 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

It wasn't an act of God.

The leak was actually in the pipes of the neighbor across the street in his front yard. They  had to dig up near my home at first, thinking the leak was there in the street and since the fumes were going down hill, they had to release the pressure of it...with a pumping machine for over 12 hours throughout the night.

It was in their pipelines, that were very old and needed to be replaced. Anything outside the home is their responsibility to fix.
That to me wouldn't be considered an act of God if they needed to replace what was worn out.

But I will definitely give them one more chance to do something about it before I make others aware of the problem. I am one of the few homes in the town that have trees, most others cut them down because of the care needed for them and the way they are always trimmed hard by the electric company, only making them grow thicker and faster than before..

And the thing is, I only asked at the beginning to have just those dead branches cut, we would have cut them smaller and gotten rid of them ..and they wouldn't even do that, which wouldn't have cost them much. Now the whole tree is almost dead and will be a greater expense.
Nan
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5 posted 05-08-2003 11:39 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

Gas pipes laid under the streets aren't acts of God, however.  They're going to say whatever they have to say to avoid its costing them anything.  I'd bet there's no statute of limitations on killing trees in their customers' yards...

Do your homework... Have your facts in order... Then confront them with irrefutable data - and ask for reimbursement (if there is any for the death of a tree that's stood for centuries).  They'll eventually pay you some heed - They're just hoping you'll go away instead...
Sunshine
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6 posted 05-08-2003 11:49 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine


The "Act of God" would reference any "natural break, leak, wear, tear, design, [growth of tree through, around, over, on pipes]..." that could not be "foreseen, known of, acted upon," [you get the gist]...

Playing devil's advocate here.

As Nan said, have dates, times, facts in hand...

and get ready to stand in a long line.  They're bigger, "older and have more insurance than you" [Fried Green Tomatoes] and they will simply wait until you get frustrated.

If I were you?  I'd call an attorney specializing in EPA laws.  THAT would get their attention.

nakdthoughts
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7 posted 05-08-2003 12:18 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

I just spent the last 45 minutes or more re-explaining and being passed from one person to another and on hold until finally leaving a voicemail to whomever handled it last year.
I am going to give him 2 hours to get back to me and then  call the public  utilities commission and voice my complaint. You don't have to worry about me giving up. I am not about to. And  I really don't wish to get a lawyer involved yet..as that will just cost me more money that I don't have.

I have had to deal with this once before with another utility that would cut down my other trees  below the lines until there was nothing left but 4  trunks with huge knots on top.

They have to ask permission and I refused..so they had to send  someone from across the state to talk to me. We came to an agreement of  them  removing all the trees and they could leave the bottoms
and that is how I  got my flower beds. I had to pile new soil on top of the roots and plant  on top. Over the years the roots have disintegrated.

My main concern now is that the school bus stop has been relocated to my  pavement beneath that tree ( the kids ruined the property on the other side and the school moved them here) and I do not want to be held responsible for the falling branches as it continues to die.

Now I have to play that waiting game again

~sighing~
M
nakdthoughts
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8 posted 05-08-2003 12:26 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

Karilea, don't you think I will get their attention, with signs and bird
houses etc..hanging off a tree where everyone passes in Southern York County...
My property is the "talk or gossip of the  town" half the time as it is. (for various reasons)

I am sure it will catch the newspapers attention even witout a sign saying it was the gas companies fault  and then when they write an article or they do a tv  piece, I will tell my story...

It's terrible that you have to fight to get things taken care of. All it does is aggravate you more. I told the one person on the phone that if they had taken care of it  almost 2 years ago,I am sure I would have had to sign a release and they would have only had to cut out that first part that was dead. Now I want the whole thing cut down and it will cost them more.
Thanks for the advice. If I need to I will seek out a lawyer.

And I don't think I can make them reimburse me for that other tree.

*s
M
passing shadows
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9 posted 05-08-2003 01:01 PM       View Profile for passing shadows   Email passing shadows   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for passing shadows

M, I agree that you should seek out the advice of a lawyer, maybe even talk with someone whose job is environmental defense like the EPA.... or maybe a county commissioner or someone like that? You must get someone stronger on your side, this is not a fight that you can win alone. And I feel (in my opinion) that drawing public attention to the gas company with the signs might hurt you more than help.

Try some other avenues first.
nakdthoughts
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10 posted 05-08-2003 01:17 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

Hi Dixie, I just called the Public Utilities
Commission and have a complaint and a case number which now will be faxed to the Gas Co.

They have 30 days to resolve the situation, one way or the other. An investigator will be in touch with me, they will get all the records of that leak and then any calls or complaints from me and will then proceed from there.


I decided there was no sense in waiting for a phone call that probably would not come for hours if not days.

M
Sunshine
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11 posted 05-08-2003 01:31 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

quote:
Karilea, don't you think I will get their attention, with signs and bird
houses etc..hanging off a tree where everyone passes in Southern York County...

First, I would check out the local ordinances for "nuisance claims" just so you don't incite the neighbors to sue YOU for disturbing the peace!  LOL...   Some of the laws [and esp. in your area] are quite archaic but still hang tough...and you really don't want to be put in the stocks now, do you?  
nakdthoughts
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12 posted 05-08-2003 02:07 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

the tree is on my property and all the neighbors are on my side  
plus country birdhouses and yard signs are all over this county decorating walls, gardens trees etc...and yard sale signs stapled illegally to poles...
But I will first go through the proper channels and maybe won't even have a tree to hang it on, when all is said and done.

Thanks
M

[This message has been edited by nakdthoughts (05-09-2003 02:31 PM).]

Midnitesun
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13 posted 05-08-2003 02:16 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Keep us posted, please. I can't offer his services, but I work for an attorney whose specialty is environmental law. I'll see if he has any suggestions, but I think you made a wise decision in filing a complaint with the local PUC. And before paying for any attorney fees, I'd have a chat with all the neighbors to see if others are being impacted, and also call someone from your county agricultural extension office and get a formal/professional evaluation and feedback that may include soil samples as well as plant/leaf samples. The damage may not have come from the escaping gasses.t's possible it was coincidental. But you may need an arborist on your side anyway, or  help from a local environmentally active group. I'd certainly pursue this, as it sounds as if the expenses for you will be overwhelming if you start losing everything in your yard. I'd bet other neighbors are or will be interested in knowing if their plants will expire next. And what about your homeowners insurance provider? Have you called them?
Good luck. You'll need to stand your ground, and it may take some time (from what I know about such things from a similar experience a friend went through in southern California.)

[This message has been edited by Midnitesun (05-08-2003 02:23 PM).]

nakdthoughts
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14 posted 05-08-2003 02:25 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

I really don't want to call my own insurance company, if it isn't my fault and if they pay for it, my homeowners will go up.

I am on a corner...no one else is near enough to my property and where they dug to be affected as the gas spread underground to my property..the rest is street and no one else for at least a block around has trees. So they wouldn't see the effects.

I will wait to see what Columbia Gas says..I would rather they pay for the professionals to prove it wasn't caused by them. Let them defend their position since nothing else  could have caused this tree to die, at least nothing I have done. I even tried to feed it to keep it alive, but it was too late after the first year.

So far, no one has returned my call, but I was told it takes time before they fax the claim to the gas company...as they get many many complaints daily, and I am sure they are more serious than a tree.  


We shall see...I just have to be patient now.
Thanks for your input.

[This message has been edited by nakdthoughts (05-08-2003 02:27 PM).]

passing shadows
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15 posted 05-09-2003 03:00 AM       View Profile for passing shadows   Email passing shadows   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for passing shadows

good decision Maureen! Keep us posted!
Mysteria
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16 posted 05-09-2003 03:47 AM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Maureen being patient is okay but don't be silent, in otherwords, remind them you are still waiting for a returned call.  I would imagine utility companies in the States are the same as here and are slow to do anything, least of all things that cost money.  

I did want to say that a personal visit to someone there might be a nice idea as well so you can put a face and voice to the complaint so to speak and and you too can get a "real" person to contact.  I always think at least in the first round, you get more with honey than with vinager, then you strike like a snake in the second round

Good luck, as your tree is definitely dying from that looks of the photo, that is for sure.  The maple trees at the school across from me met the same death several years ago, but because they were so huge, they cut them right down and be darned if they are not starting to come back just now.  It took them over the winter into spring that year to realize their fate as well.  Make sure you remind of that fact and that is why you did not complain for 18 months.  Karilea is right as well about your neighbours being able to sue you by the way, as I know of someone that happened to, and they lost, but they hung long underwear out with naughty saying on them about our local mayor, not bird houses LOL.
nakdthoughts
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17 posted 05-09-2003 10:11 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

My neighbors like me...and are in agreement with me about the tree.

This  is a close knit community where everyone knows everyone else (and their business) except for those who move into new developments. I am keeping them informed of each step also. And Sharon..I tried using honey last year..it didn't work. Even the Gas Company employee I spoke to on the phone told me to call the PUC..that is who they transferred me too.  

I am still waiting for that return phone call from yesterday...

*s
M
passing shadows
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18 posted 05-09-2003 01:52 PM       View Profile for passing shadows   Email passing shadows   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for passing shadows

that's a sad thing...looking at that picture just makes me want to cry...a beautiful tree dying...
Chanson
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19 posted 05-09-2003 06:05 PM       View Profile for Chanson   Email Chanson   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Chanson

Hanging the birdhouses is a good idea, but personally, I would board up the little birdie holes and tack signs on the houses saying, "Quarenteened".

But on a serious note, take the advice of the others seriously as to arming yourself with documentation...ie, bark/leaf/soil samples. (An old maple in my backyard died for no apparent reason except for old age) I hope the situation gets remedied soon. Keep us posted, my friend. *s

P.S. On another, completely off-topic, note it looks like my Grandma's hours with us are numbered. My uncle flew in from California this evening to say his goodbyes. It's so hard seeing her this way and it was like seeing my Dad all over again, something I didn't want to have to repeat anytime soon.

If I'm not online it's because I'll be back at the nursing home.
Mysteria
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20 posted 05-09-2003 08:27 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Keep us posted, there is nothing more criminal than killing off animals or our vegetation is there?  Well I guess if the honey didn't work you go to plan B, and also get a petition going if you can from the neigbours if you are all that close.  I really think that they tend to pay a lot of attention when they think that there are others worried about gas leaks in their yards, and you know - strength in numbers helps.  Let us know.
Phaedrus
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21 posted 05-10-2003 12:47 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus


There might be a chance your trees werenít damaged by the gas leak, although trees are susceptible to leaks it generally takes exposure over months and sometimes years to destroy tree roots.
http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/IPM/news/pestalrt/vol14/Pest1415.html

Damaged trees due to utility excavation however are a known problem in the UK. In fact there are strict guidelines over here that should be adhered to by the utility companies.
http://www.which.net/gardeningwhich/campaigns/stsurvey.html#Compliance

From what Iíve read the difference between gas damage to roots and excavation damage is the rapidity of the trees demise in the latter, and that loss of foliage begins and is most noticeable on the side adjacent to the excavation.

How does this help?

A gas leak generally canít be directly attributed to any company or person Ė it will in most cases end up in the realms of ďan act of GodĒ. Damage caused by an excavation however can be directly attributed to a company or person (those doing the digging).

Iím not qualified to give you advice on this (or any other) matter, but if I were in your shoes Iíd be tempted to approach the company with all the evidence I could find that the excavation caused the damage and hope that they accept responsibility.
Midnitesun
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22 posted 05-10-2003 01:46 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

I agree 100% with what Phaedsus wrote. It may be the physical act of root damage from the machinery that was the fatal blow.
Good luck!
nakdthoughts
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23 posted 05-10-2003 07:16 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

It doesn't matter whether it was the damage by a machine that dug into the street or the leak of gas itself. It was all done by the gas company. The maintenance of pipelines for natural gas are their responsibilities on the outside of a home. We are only responsible for the inside.

The side of the tree that has died first was the side closest to the street where they dug and pumped gas for over 12 hours before they were satisfied that the leak was no longer dangerous and no longer of high level in my grounds and basement.

The tree though, each new year has more large main branches that are dead and there is only one section still growing leaves. From the picture you can see the tree is right next to the street and pavement. The large dug out area was less than 8 ft away
in front of that area and had high levels surrounding the tree.

I am sure they will try to blame it on something else, but I am maticulous about my gardens and property (other than needing a new roof) and for over 20 years have kept most other things alive unless snow removal
from the borough or state plows has damaged them.

This is an old tree but was healthy until that leak. I just have to wait and see now. The readings may show nothing by now since it was over 2 years ago. If they still had high readings they would still be here trying to pump it out.  The damage was done then and the tree just could not rebound from the damage.

It may be a fight but I am not going to pay another dime to have it removed since I paid for the first one that died immediately but was younger. The tree experts who came to remove that one said it was not diseased nor did lightning strike it, as I thought may have been the reason at first.
The leak was the fault of a rotted pipe or crack in it. I live in an old town..many things by now have had to be redone, water pipes under the streets, and I am sure the gas lines, too. It was not an act of God. It was a faulty and leaking pipeline. And not even mine.  
They can do what they want. If they give me a hard time, then I will make sure I get the newspapers and tv involved...they would get to the bottom of it and won't be afraid, nor biased.

All I can do is wait and see if they call or come out to investigate it. The PUC said they have 30 days to respond from the day I made a copmplaint. And she said more than likely they will take every bit of it.

M

nakdthoughts
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24 posted 05-20-2003 02:58 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

well, once again they sent a gas representative out to measure the  gas content of my soil and the street. Big deal, after 2 years it wouldn't show any or they would have been back here to dig up some more street.

Then he will go back and then send out  someone else..and then I am sure they will try once again to tell me that it wasn't their fault. But I told him nicely and he smiled...that I AM NOT GOING AWAY that easily...and if I have to I will be painting a sign and putting it in that tree. He laughed. I think he is on my side...but if they can get away with doing nothing, they will try.

I also am willing for them to just take it down in large pieces and we will saw it into fire wood and get rid of it. But I am not going to pay for someone to climb that tree and cut it down.

So far, he was very nice.

M
 
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