Colorado oil tank blast kills worker, spurs safety questions |

Colorado oil tank blast kills worker, spurs safety questions

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press
An oil tank burns after an explosion at a tank battery owned by Anadarko near the Grand View Estates neighborhood in Weld County on Thursday in Mead. The fatal oil tank battery fire in northern Colorado appears to be unrelated to a nearby home explosion last month caused by a leaky gas line.
Lewis Geyer/Daily Camera via AP

DENVER — An oil tank explosion in northern Colorado killed a worker and burned three others, shooting up flames just miles away from an unrelated gas blast last month and prompting fresh questions about safety in one of Colorado’s largest industries — oil and gas extraction.

The fire flared Thursday when the workers completed upgrades to an oil tank battery, which is a collection of tanks that receive crude oil production from a well.

Anadarko Petroleum Co. said the facility in Mead, about 40 miles north of Denver, was not in service and the fire was under investigation.

The company also owns a well connected to a home explosion that killed two people in Firestone, a city a few miles from Mead. The April 17 blast was traced to a leaky well.

Anadarko said Thursday that it will permanently shut down the Firestone well and two others in the neighborhood. The pipeline was thought to be out of service, but investigators say it was still connected to a well near the home.

The Sierra Club called Friday for Anadarko to shutter all of its operations while state and federal authorities conduct a comprehensive review. The company did not respond.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday that it’s too soon for the state to take any action in response to the most recent explosion.

“I haven’t heard any details yet. So let’s see what happened first,” he told The Associated Press.

Two Colorado Democratic lawmakers called on Anadarko to cooperate with state investigators to ensure it does not happen again. State Rep. Mike Foote said the industry and government “have an obligation to treat these incidents not as isolated or freak accidents.”

A third safety accident related to the energy industry happened Thursday in northeast Colorado, near the Nebraska border. A leak of natural gas was discovered from an underground storage facility.

The leak occurred in a well that injects and withdraws gas from the facility owned by East Cheyenne Gas Storage. Logan County called all residents who live within 2 miles of the well and urged them to evacuate.

There were no injuries from the storage-tank leak.