State announces changes to flow line regulations after deadly Firestone house explosion

DENVER -- The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission announced changes to the way flow lines are regulated on Monday, hoping the rules will prevent another tragedy such as the deadly house explosion in Firestone.

Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said the rules will help better disseminate information about flow lines to all stakeholders -- the state, the public, and oil and gas companies.

"We are trying to increase our information about flow lines so we know what’s there," Hartman said.

Under the new rules, old flow lines would need to be capped on both ends and filled with a material such as sand or the flow line must be removed completely.

An old and uncapped flow line leaked gas into the home in Firestone that eventually exploded and killed two people inside.

The changes would also improve the ways flow lines are monitored by giving the industry more up-to-date options on how to monitor flow lines.

Hartman said another key element of the changes focusing on providing more information to the public when people call 811 before they dig on their property.

Earthworks is a nonprofit that tries to prevent the impact of energy and mining development on communities across the U.S.

While Earthworks director Bruce Baizel said the changes are a good start, he'd like to see more done.

"It's good, but it's not enough," Baizel said.

Baizel said companies should not be given an option to leave old flow lines in the ground but instead, it should be mandated they be removed.

"It’s really just not appropriate to be leaving your junk in the ground next to someone’s property. It should be mandatory," Baizel said.

Multiple pro-industry organizations did not return calls seeking comment on the proposed changes.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will host public hearings in December to gather input on the proposed changes before casting a final vote.

Any changes would likely roll out in the first few months of 2018.