Anadarko faces possible state penalties for Firestone explosion

As state regulators prepare for public hearings on new oil and gas flow line regulations, they’re also preparing to issue a notice of an alleged violation to the company whose well and uncapped flow line are blamed for a deadly home explosion in 2017 in Firestone.

Jeff Robbins, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said Wednesday that his staff expects to issue a notice to Kerr McGee Oil and Gas, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

“We’re evaluating the actions and inactions that resulted in the Firestone incident. We are evaluating whether those actions or inactions resulted in the violation of our rules,” Robbins said.

The COGCC staff will identify which specific rules were allegedly violated and consider fines and other penalties. Robbins said the staff was waiting for a final report on the Firestone explosion from the National Transportation Safety Board, which issued a decision Tuesday.

The NTSB said the probable cause of the April 17, 2017, explosion that killed Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin was gas leaking from a 1-inch diameter line running from an Anadarko well near the house. The line had been severed but wasn’t capped when a gas tank battery was moved before the subdivision was built.

RELATED: Federal report on fatal Firestone explosion blames gas leak, government approval to build homes without pipeline maps

Erin Martinez, Mark’s wife and Joey’s sister, spoke out in support of Senate Bill 19-181, a new law aimed at overhauling how oil and gas are regulated. One of the law’s mandates is stricter regulation of flow lines, which run from the well to nearby equipment. A hearing is scheduled Nov. 20-22 on the proposed rules.

After the explosion, former Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered companies to identify and test their pipelines within 1,000 feet of homes. The regulations were updated in 2018.

However, The Denver Post reported Sunday that 30 months after the Firestone tragedy, not much progress has been made on the promised comprehensive public mapping of pipelines, due in part to the difficulty of locating them. Robbins said the proposed changes include far more specific mapping of the flow lines.

When the state issues a notice of alleged violation in the Firestone case, the company will appear before state oil and gas commissioners to accept or contest the notice. Occidental Petroleum, which acquired Anadarko earlier this year, didn’t return a request for comment Wednesday.

Just as the release of the long-awaited NTSB report is shaping work on the series of rules being written to carry out SB 181, a new health study has prompted state regulators to make some changes as they strive to fulfill the law’s objective of making public health, safety and the environment a priority. The study, released Oct. 17 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, found that people within 2,000 feet of drilling operations might face a higher risk of short-term health impacts from emissions of benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical, and other substances in worst-case scenarios.

As a result, the COGCC …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Business


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