Company, families settle after fatal Colorado gas explosion in 2017
DENVER — Anadarko Petroleum said Wednesday it has reached legal settlements with the families of two men killed in a northern Colorado home explosion that was linked to one of the company’s wells.
The April 2017 explosion killed Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin, who were in Martinez’s home in the town of Firestone, about 30 miles north of Denver.
Texas-based Anadarko said it would not disclose the details of the agreements.
Martinez and Irwin were brothers-in-law, and friends said they were working on a water heater in the basement of the home. Erin Martinez, wife of Mark Martinez and sister of Irwin, was badly burned.
Anadarko said in a statement that the Martinez couple and Irwin were blameless in the explosion.
“The people of Anadarko express their deepest condolences to both families, and to all affected families, friends and communities,” the company said.
An attorney for the Martinez family, Ross Pulkrabek, did not immediately return an after-hours telephone message.
Investigators said the explosion was caused by odorless, unrefined natural gas from a pipeline that was severed about 10 feet from the house. The line was believed to be abandoned but was still connected to an operating Anadarko well with the valve turned to the open position, investigators said.
Authorities said the gas seeped into the home’s basement. The investigation is ongoing.
The severed line was known as a flow line, one of thousands across the state that carry oil and gas from wells to nearby equipment. The explosion prompted state regulators to order energy companies to test and report the location of any flow line within 1,000 feet of buildings.
Companies reported about 129,000 lines in that category.
The state established new rules for installing, testing and shutting down flow lines. The regulations also required companies to provide the location of flow lines to the Call 811 program, which marks the location of underground utilities at a property owner’s request.
Homes, schools, wells and pipelines are frequently at close quarters in Colorado, especially in the fast-growing Front Range urban corridor, which overlaps with an oil and gas field. That has triggered legal battles and political debates over who should regulate the industry, and by how much.
On Tuesday, city leaders in Longmont decided to pay two energy companies a total of $3 million to stop drilling for oil and gas within the city. They can still tap oil or gas below the community by drilling horizontal wells from outside the city limits.
Longmont is about 12 miles (19 kilometers) west of Firestone.
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