Oil Company To Pay State Record $18 Million For Fatal Firestone Home Explosion
State oil and gas regulators are seeking roughly $18 million in fines from the company responsible for the 2017 home explosion in the town of Firestone. It’s the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s largest fine ever issued against an operator, officials said.
The penalty puts money toward public safety projects, including more aerial and ground monitoring of gas leaks in Northern Colorado.
The projects include:
- An annual state-led aerial survey to detect leaks from pipelines, flowlines, production pads, tanks, central gathering facilities and compressor stations throughout the Denver-Julesburg Basin.
- A mobile air monitoring van to supplement ongoing air monitoring projects in the basin. State employees will drive the van past oil and gas facilities to help detect leaks and notify operators.
- Purchasing new optical gas imaging cameras to visualize natural gas that’s emitted at oil and gas facilities. The cost for nine cameras is approximately $1 million, according to the COGCC.
- Investments in developing new satellite and remote sensing technology to track oil and gas leaks.
- Purchasing new methane detection and metering equipment for state regulators.
Jeff Robbins, director of the COGCC, said the fine is a fair price for the tragedy that killed two people and injured several more.
“We know it won’t ever mean that the Martinez family will have their loved ones returned,” Robbins said. “But with today’s decision we are using every tool possible through the COGCC to be able to avoid future tragedies.”
In a statement, one of the survivors of the explosion, Erin Martinez, praised the state for holding the company, Kerr McGee, accountable. The company is a subsidiary of Anadarko, which recently sold to energy-giant Occidental Petroleum.
Martinez said she looked forward to seeing the penalty at work in keeping Colorado residents safe.
“Our lives are forever changed,” Martinez said. “It is hard to comprehend that the only recourse is a penalty or a fine, how do you put a price on human life? However, legally that is all that can be done.”
The COGCC will make the fine official in a vote scheduled for next month.