❝ An Anadarko oil tank battery exploded in flames on Thursday afternoon, killing one worker and injuring three more, just 3.5 miles from the site of a deadly home explosion in Firestone, Colo., that killed two last month…
On the same day, state officials confirmed that two pockets of methane gas were discovered in the Oak Meadows community, in Firestone. Todd Hartman, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) noted that the elevated readings on the left side of the image below were likely related to the existence of a tank battery and so not necessarily abnormal. The second pocket of gas was located underneath Oak Meadows Boulevard. According to the DNR, a preliminary investigation indicates that a flowline heading towards that road may have been cut when a sewer was installed there.
❝ Earlier this month, Governor John Hickenlooper ordered a statewide review of all oil and gas operations following the Firestone home explosion. The explosion was traced to an uncapped flowline from a newly activated gas well, both owned by Anadarko. The line was buried seven feet underground but was accidentally severed near the home’s basement. It leaked odorless gas that exploded, killing homeowner Mark Martinez and his brother-in-law Joey Irwin, both 42.
❝ Oil and gas producers in the state faced a deadline of May 30 to complete inspections and a deadline of June 30 to fix any problems found. In the meantime, about a hundred homeowners in the Oak Meadows neighborhood have filed suit against the owner of the well, Anadarko Petroleum, the past owner of the well, Noble Energy, as well as the home builders and developers.
❝ For years anti-oil and gas activists have been clamoring for greater distances between homes and oil and gas activity. In 2013, Colorado increased setbacks for new wells to 500 feet. But there are no statewide regulations regarding what is known as “reverse setbacks,” the distance that new homes must be built from older wells.
Anyone think people are more important than profits? Get in the way of serious money-making natural resources and you will learn about eminent domain faster than a bolt of lightning. Or a natural gas explosion.
10 thoughts on “Back-To-Back Deadly Oil & Gas Explosions in Colorado Communities”
May 17, 2017 – “Days after a gas line linked to an Anadarko Petroleum well ignited a deadly home blast in Colorado, the company’s chief executive said the “terrible tragedy has left all of us with heavy hearts.” But even as investigators were picking through the wreckage, the company moved to fight a new bill that would have forced it to tell Colorado homeowners how close they live to oil and gas operations.” http://darkmoneywatch.org/is-there-a-gas-line-near-your-house-how-anadarko-petroleum-killed-a-bill-forcing-fossil-fuel-companies-to-tell-homeowners/ “The sequence of events that unfolded after the Colorado explosion demonstrates the political power of the Texas-based company, which is Colorado’s largest oil and gas producer and has flooded Colorado politics with campaign cash. An International Business Times/MapLight review of campaign finance records found the firm gave more than $7.2 million to political groups operating in the state during the 2016 election cycle — an average of roughly $10,000 every day for two years.” See also “Halliburton In Colorado: Board Member’s Donation Shows Power Of Oil And Gas Industry” http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/halliburton-colorado-board-members-donation-shows-power-oil-gas-industry-2536297
(5/8/18) Six former high-ranking employees and a former contractor for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. say in court documents that Colorado’s largest energy driller put profits over safety, creating massive risks before a leaking company pipeline caused a fatal home explosion in Firestone in April 2017. https://www.denverpost.com/2018/05/08/anadarko-firestone-home-explosion-safety-profits/ The statements are contained in an amended class-action lawsuit filed by shareholders in November. The shareholders contend that the company created a “ticking time bomb” in its Colorado operations by ignoring safety and environmental hazards.
“After Home Explosion, Who Wants To Live On Twilight Ave?” http://insideenergy.org/2017/06/20/after-home-explosion-who-wants-to-live-on-twilight-ave/ In addition to decreases in property values that result from living near oil and gas development and potential direct losses from oil and gas ‘incidents’, there is also “residual stigma“, described as the “additional loss, over and above actual clean-up costs, which a property suffers as a result of risks and other residual characteristics.” See also time-lapse aerial view from 1999 through 2015 of the area where the fatal Oak Meadows home explosion occurred as new housing developments encroaches upon old wells.
“Extraction Oil & Gas said Tuesday that it plans to stay busy in the Denver-Julesburg Basin next year, spending $770 million to $840 million to drill 170 to 175 wells.” https://www.denverpost.com/2017/12/19/extraction-oil-unveils-active-drilling-program-d-j-basin-could-boost-output-85-percent/ (photo caption: Homes in Broomfield’s Anthem Ranch sit just north of the site of Extraction Oil and Gas, Inc.’s Lowell Pad) “The Denver-based producer plans to frack or complete another 185 to 190 wells, and spend another $120 million to $150 million to acquire land and on other non-production costs.”
See also “How the U.S. Government Hid Fracking’s Risks to Drinking Water” (11/17) https://insideclimatenews.org/news/16112017/fracking-chemicals-safety-epa-health-risks-water-bush-cheney and ““New, Major Evidence That Fracking Harms Human Health” (12/12/17) https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/12/data-from-11-million-infants-suggests-fracking-harms-human-health/548315/
Anadarko pumps $2.5M into Colorado elections https://www.denverpost.com/2018/05/21/top-colorado-donors-2018-election/ The total poured into Colorado elections tracked by the state through May 2 neared $56 million, according to a Denver Post analysis of campaign finance records from 2017 and 2018. Three oil and gas companies rank among the top 10 donors, led by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
Re: Denver Post see https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/05/the-rapid-devastating-decline-of-the-denver-post/560402/
Protect Colorado, created by the state’s largest oil and gas companies, has raised $8.4 million in contributions to fight a potential ballot measure that, if passed, would increase the buffer between oil and gas wells and homes, schools and parks to 2,500 feet. The current setback in Colorado is 500 feet from occupied buildings. Given the proximity of homes to oil reserves in Colorado, the industry sees it as a de-facto ban, something “aimed at eliminating oil and gas development,” says Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy. http://www.cpr.org/news/story/protect-colorado-has-a-84m-piggy-bank-ready-to-do-battle-this-november
24 oil wells fracking behind a school – how close is too close? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/31/us/colorado-fracking-debates.html
Re: Karen Crummy and her professional advice for dealing with the press see http://polluterwatch.org/Karen-Crummy
“Emails published by International Business Times and MapLight revealed that Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar—“Colorado’s Democratic Party kingmaker”—was hired as a lawyer and fixer for Anadarko after the Firestone explosion. At WilmerHale*, where he remains a partner, Salazar’s focus areas are broadcast as “energy, environment, natural resources.” https://theintercept.com/2018/06/06/ken-salazar-colorado-governor-race-fracking/ “Salazar has a history of supporting fossil fuel interests going back to his Senate vote for George W. Bush’s infamous 2005 energy bill, which exempts fracking from the Underground Injection Control provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act. As interior secretary, Salazar opened the Arctic for drilling and helped to implement a plan to move wild horses out of Colorado to free up land for oil and gas extraction. Upon returning to the private sector, he vocally advocated for the Keystone XL pipeline and against restrictions on fracking.
He’s been a particularly good friend to Anadarko. As a report by the International Business Times and MapLight noted, in 2010, “Salazar’s department waived environmental rules for an Anadarko offshore drilling project after the Deepwater Horizon spill even though Anadarko partially owned the well involved in that disaster.” In 2012, it approved a plan to allow the company to “develop as many as 3,600 new gas wells in eastern Utah.” This deal was celebrated as a “victory for the economy, U.S. government, and environmental groups,” the report explains, adding that “both the Bureau of Land Management and the Utah Department of Environmental Air Quality have raised concerns about air pollution from wells in the region.” Salazar is even quoted multiple times in Anadarko’s promotional materials.” (see links)
“The rising risks of the West’s latest gas boom : An explosion in suburban Colorado raises questions on safety and accountability.” https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.18/energy-industry-how-site-workers-and-firefighters-responding-to-a-2017-natural-gas-explosion-in-windsor-colorado-narrowly-avoided-disaster “It could’ve been like an atomic bomb going off.” Ernie Bouldin, supervisor for one of Extraction Oil and Gas’ contractors. The crew had been conducting “flowback operations,” probably the most dangerous stage of oil and gas development. After drilling, operators “complete” the well via hydraulic fracturing, or pumping a mixture of sand, water and chemicals at high pressure to release hydrocarbons from tight rock formations more than a mile underground. Afterwards, the fracking fluids, along with other toxic chemicals, dissolved solids and heavy metals flow back to the surface at high pressure. The liquids are sorted, stored and eventually moved off-site. The Stromberger facility, which sprawled across an area larger than eight football fields, contained 19 flowing wells, along with an assortment of other industrial apparatus, much of it filled or flowing with a salty, flammable chemical and hydrocarbon stew.
AURORA, Colo. (Dec. 11, 2018) – Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health have found a possible connection between the intensity of oil and gas exploration in an area and early indicators of cardiovascular disease among nearby residents. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-12/uoca-pcb121118.php In a pilot study of 97 people in Fort Collins, Greeley and Windsor, the scientists found that those who lived in areas of more intense oil and gas development showed early signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including higher blood pressure, changes in the stiffness of blood vessels, and markers of inflammation.
The study was published this month in the journal Environmental Research. See https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935118306339?via%3Dihub