Extraction Report on Dec. 22 Windsor Accident Has No Cause: So Will The Same Fire Happen In Broomfield?

“They [Extraction] have no idea what happened,” said Broomfield Mayor Randy Ahrens after having read the accident report on the Stromberger Well Pad in the Weld County Windsor area.  Jeff Rickard of Regulatory Compliance Company filed the required report on behalf of Extraction on Feb. 23 with the COGCC for the fire during flowback operations on Dec. 22.  The City had just received the report before the Feb. 27 Council meeting and CCOB Assistant City Manager Kevin Standbridge referred to it in reading a list of oil and gas update items reported by Special Counsel Tami Yellico.

Standbridge said he was “personally surprised at the brevity of the document” of 4 pages.  He reported that Tami Yellico would be following up with a call to the COGCC to get their feedback on the Extraction accident report.  However, he added that he didn’t anticipate that the COGCC would follow up with Extraction on the report.  There is an Occupational Health and Safety Administration investigation but that may not be completed for up to 6 months.

Left unanswered, according to Council Member Shelton, was the question “What are they [Extraction] going to do different?”  That concern had been expressed earlier in the evening by Elizabeth Lario during Citizen Comments in saying, “This means we don’t know how to hold Extraction accountable to ensure that whatever happened at that site will not happen here.  In the meantime, the COGCC can technically administratively approve the drilling permit on the Livingston pad before we have a chance to understand what happened at the Windsor site.”

The Extraction report acknowledged that there was still “an active ongoing investigation” and that “the gas and ignition source are still being investigated.”  The report then lists potential contributing factors but comes to no conclusion.  Ironically, it also lists the heading “corrective action implemented” in the same line that it states that the “investigation is currently in an active and ongoing process.”

The description of the incident in the document severely downplayed the injury to the worker.  It stated that, “One contract worker was injured, transferred, treated and subsequently released from a local hospital.”  There was a Jan. 3 9 News report which stated that after 13 days he “remains in the hospital with third degree burns to his hands and second degree burns to his face” and that the doctors had just “removed his intubation tubes on Wednesday allowing him to speak with his wife for the first time since the fire.”  In a Denver 7 Jan. 3 report, it stated that, “Houston Pirtle still has a long road to recovery.”

Here were some of the other details in the document:

“Description of the Incident:

A fire occurred on the pad during flowback operations utilizing tanks, and was contained to the pad. One contract worker was injured, transferred, treated and subsequently released from a local hospital. The fire caused damage to tanks and separation equipment that led to a minor fluid release and additionally caused some wellhead equipment damage.  The event was contained to the well site and no firefighting water, foam or hydrocarbon products left the site at any time.”

“3. Potential Contributing Factors: Parties of concern in the incident are currently engaged in an active ongoing investigation. Specialized third party fire investigators are also involved to aid in determining a root cause and contributing factors. At the time of this report, the gas and ignition source are still being investigated. However, Extraction has come to the following conclusions regarding the event and potential fuel and ignition sources…”

Please read the rest of the report at https://www.broomfield.org/DocumentCenter/View/25780