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Regulators in Colorado Getting Serious About Pipeline Leaks

Regulators in Colorado Getting Serious About Pipeline Leaks (Kara Grubis / Shutterstock)

Leakey oil and gas pipelines are commanding the attention of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as 430 pipelines near occupied buildings recently failed leak-detection tests. While this is only 0.35 percent of the lines tested, state politicians are calling the tests significant and dangerous.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former petroleum engineer, said the results show the reason he ordered the inspections. "Given the number of (pipelines) in the state, this is a relatively small figure; however, each failure requires our attention," he said in a written statement.

Companies have already reported that a total of 120,815 flow lines are within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings, the commission said. And of this number 107,000 have either passed the tests or have been permanently sealed.

Flow lines are the name given to pipelines that carry oil, gas or water from wells to storage tanks or other collection equipment. They are usually underground.

The state ordered the tests after an April 17 explosion in Firestone that killed two people, injured one and destroyed a house. Since then the Commission has ordered that pre-existing rules and regulations governing the operation of flow lines be rewritten.

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