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Recent Weld County Oil And Gas Explosions Are Unrelated, Officials Say

Photo courtesy of Mountain View Fire and Rescue via Code 10 Photography

Thursday’s blast in nearby Mead killed one person and injured three others. All were working on a battery at the site owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. The oil tank battery that caught fire was not in operation at the time, according to the company.

The explosion happened less than 4 miles away from the Firestone neighborhood where an April 17 explosion killed two people. Investigators blamed that explosion on natural gas from a severed flowline. Anadarko owns that well, too.

The Weld County Sheriff’s Department told The Denver Channel that the two deadly incidents aren’t related. The blast was “a completely separate incident all together,” said Cpl. Matt Turner with the Weld County Sheriff’s Office.

Here’s What We Know

Lawmakers Are Calling For Anadarko’s Cooperation

State House Majority Leader KC Becker and Rep. Mike Foote, both Democrats, said Friday that the fire that killed one worker and injured three others was unacceptable — especially coming after a fatal house explosion in the region blamed on a natural gas pipe leak.

Foote said the industry and government “have an obligation to treat these incidents not as isolated or freak accidents.”

What The Governor Has To Say

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former geologist, agrees with investigators that the two deadly oil and gas explosions in recent weeks are unrelated. Hickenlooper said that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Thursday’s incident in Mead.

The Democratic governor is resisting calls from an environmental group to temporarily shut down all Colorado gas wells owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. He told reporters Friday that it was too early for any government response pending an investigation into the Mead incident. He said, “Let’s see what happened first.”

The Role Of Federal, State Agencies In A Case Like This

When incidents happen, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state regulator, will follow up. They will also work with local agencies, in this case, the Mountain View Fire Protection District, along with the Weld County Sheriff and Weld County Coroner.

When it comes to worker injuries or fatalities, those are always subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The National Transportation Safety Board is also involved in the investigation.

Anadarko Petroleum said it is investigating the cause of the accident as well.

How Colorado Stacks Up To Other States With Oil & Gas Incidents

Jobs in the oil and gas industry are among the most dangerous in the country. According to federal data, in 2015 around 4,800 workers died on the job in the U.S., 120 of those workers were classified as oil, gas, mining and quarrying. Colorado falls in the middle when it comes to oil and gas safety, compared to other energy producing states. Since 2003, there have been at least 51 oil field deaths in the state.

CPR News editor Jim Hill and Leigh Patterson of Inside Energy contributed to this report.

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