After explosion in Firestone, 430 pipelines failed integrity test, 107,000 were fine

Author: Associated Press - September 28, 2017 - Updated: December 31, 2017

Home Explosion Gas WellsIn this May 4, 2017, file photo, workers dismantle the charred remains of a house destroyed by an explosion triggered by natural gas in Firestone, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

DENVER — Colorado regulators say about 430 oil or gas pipelines near occupied buildings failed a leak-detection test that the state ordered after a fatal explosion blamed on a gas line.

The results were posted on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website Wednesday.

In a guest commentary in the Denver Post this month, former state Sen. Mike Kopp, now president and CEO of the business alliance Colorado Concern, noted that the compliance rate for pipelines was 99.6 percent and those that didn’t pass were either repaired or sealed off.

It wasn’t immediately clear if a test failure means with certainty that the line is leaking or if it might indicate some other problem. Officials didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking clarification.

Regulators said the status of another 13,000 pipelines remains unclear, and officials are working with energy companies to get more information.

More than 107,000 pipelines either passed the test or were out of service and sealed.

The state ordered tests on pipelines within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of occupied buildings after the fatal explosion in April.

State Sen. Matt Jones, the Senate deputy Democratic Leader for conservation, clean Energy, and climate change, issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

“This situation would be just as ‘safe’ if the regulators found there are 430 caches of dynamite next to buildings with people in them,” he said. “As we saw in Firestone, these oil and gas operations can be highly explosive and very dangerous. This is yet another example showing that these oil and gas pipelines have no business being near our children’s schools or our communities’ homes.”

(Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a statement from Jones and add context to the headline.)

Associated Press

Associated Press