Colorado Home Explosion from Anadarko Pipe to Get Safety Probe

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By Sam Pearson

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board will examine a pipeline explosion in a Denver suburb that killed two people last month, the agency said May 5.

The Denver Post reported residents Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin were killed and Martinez’s wife, Erin Martinez, was severely injured April 17 when a natural gas line near their home leaked gas into their basement, causing an explosion that leveled the house.

The CSB said it would send investigators from its Western Regional Office in Denver to investigate a home that exploded in Firestone, Colo. The board’s probe brings federal attention to an issue largely regulated at the state level.

The CSB cannot issue fines or citations, but the board’s work could help oil and gas operators as well as state and local governments learn more about preventing similar explosions and how widespread the risk is in local communities.

The Post reported local authorities believe the explosion started via a 1-inch-diameter gas line that was cut near the home and led to an oil and gas well nearby owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Although Anadarko had abandoned the line, it never disconnected and capped it, and investigators think the gas entered the home’s basement by passing through a French drain and sump pit.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ordered companies May 2 to inspect gas flowlines near homes and businesses and verify all abandoned lines are properly capped, among other actions.

In a statement April 26, Al Walker, Anadarko’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the explosion “has left all of us with heavy hearts, and the families and their loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Pearson in Washington at spearson@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Connolly at PConnolly@bna.com

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