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Fatal Pipeline Explosion in Colorado Reveals Widespread Pipeline Safety Issues in the State

Fatal Pipeline Explosion in Colorado Reveals Widespread Pipeline Safety Issues in the State (Arina P Habich / Shutterstock)

Last month a leak from a pipeline triggered an explosion in Firestone, Colorado killing two people.

The pipeline, called a flow line, is one of thousands in the state installed to carry oil and gas from 54,000 oil and gas wells to storage tanks or other collection points. And with calls for greater monitoring of pipelines that could very well be spouting leaks throughout the state, it has been disclosed that Colorado has only 3 persons assigned to check on the safety of this critical infrastructure.

After investigators announced their findings in the Firestone explosion, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry, ordered energy companies to inspect and test all flow lines within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings.

A 2014 report by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said the state did not have a formal program to monitor whether energy companies were conducting required tests on pipelines.

As a result lawmakers and regulators are weighing more extensive measures including a comprehensive map of all flow lines. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and a former petroleum geologist, and legislators from both parties agree a map is needed.

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