Governor announces Colorado’s response to oil and gas review after deadly home explosion
The review was called in response to the deadly home explosion in Firestone last April.
Mark Joseph Martinez, 42 of Firestone, and Joseph William Irwin III, 42 of Frederick, were killed in the explosion on Twilight Avenue. Erin Martinez was pinned under the collapsed roof and was critically injured.
Investigators said the explosion was caused by unrefined, odorless natural gas from a 1-inch pipeline that was severed.
“We are spending millions of dollars to do everything we can to make sure it never happens again,” Hickenlooper said during a press conference.
Anadarko Petroleum disconnected all 1-inch diameter natural gas flow lines from more than 3,000 vertical wells in Colorado shortly after the explosion.
“The Governor is directing work to now focus on policy initiatives,” officials said in a statement released Tuesday.
Changes will fall into these areas:
Strengthening COGCC’s flowline regulations
Enhancing the 8-1-1 “one-call” program
Creating a nonprofit orphan well fund to plug and abandon orphan wells and provide refunds for in-home methane monitors
Prohibiting future domestic gas taps
Creating a technical workgroup to improve safety training
Requesting peer-review of some COGCC rules
Exploring an ambient methane leak detection pilot program
These initiatives should be completed within a year, officials said.
“Can you say never about any of these things I don’t know but this is about as close to never as you are going to get,” Hickenlooper told FOX31 political reporter Joe St. George.
But some question if the transparency goes far enough.
“It’s a good start but it’s not the transparency the public wants to see,” State Rep. Mike Foote, a Democrat, said.
Foote’s objection is that you will have to physically call 811 to get information on flowlines beneath your property. As of now you would not be able to inquire about flowlines on neighbors’ properties.
“Other states map their pipelines and it hasn’t created too much of an issue and therr are plenty of people who want to see if there are flowlines next to their house,” Foote said.
“You will have to physically call, but it is 8-1-1, it’s three numbers,” Hickenlooper said.
“Why not put it online?” St. George asked.
“There are a lot of concerns of having a database like that available of people stealing gas,” Hickenlooper said.
All of these proposals still need approval by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and in some cases the General Assembly.
The Governor did not propose any changes to how close a well site can be to a home or school.