Anadarko to close wells near Firestone explosion, citing “sensitivity”

Firestone house explosion, April 17, 2017. Photo by Dennis Herrera.
Firestone house explosion, April 17, 2017. (Photo by Dennis Herrera.)

Oil and gas operator Anadarko will permanently shut down the well linked to the fatal home explosion in Firestone and two other wells nearby, the company announced Wednesday.

Craig Walters, vice president of Anadarko’s Rocky Mountain operations, told attendees at an Oak Meadows Homeowners Association meeting that inspections show the wells to be safe, but that the company will plug and abandon them permanently because of the “special circumstances and sensitivity” around the equipment. Anadarko temporarily shut 3,000 wells earlier this month when an investigation linked the explosion to one of their wells.

The explosion was caused by an improperly abandoned flowline leading from the well, which leaked flammable natural gas into the ground near the home of Erin and Mark Martinez. On April 17, this gas caught fire in the basement of the home, critically wounding Erin and killing Mark and his brother-in-law, Joey Irwin.

Walters said last night that Anadarko is “actively participating” in an investigation into the incident. That process is being led by the National Transportation Safety Board, because pipelines are considered a form of transportation. The company cannot answer questions about the incident itself while the investigation is underway.

At the HOA’s request, Anadarko is providing funding for the purchase of home natural gas detection devices. The gas that seeped into the Martinez home was unprocessed, it didn’t have the additive mercaptan, which provides the telltale “gas smell.”

The company also provided posters showing the location of their active underground flowlines in the neighborhood.

The oil and gas industry recently worked to kill proposed legislation which would have required the state regulatory agency to map all active and inactive flowlines across Colorado. The line that caused the explosion was considered inactive.

Photo credit: Dennis Herrera