Hundreds of feet of steel pipe slide off Jolley Mesa southwest of New Castle into Colorado River |

Hundreds of feet of steel pipe slide off Jolley Mesa southwest of New Castle into Colorado River

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” Several hundred feet of steel pipe slid down off Jolley Mesa, over County Road 335 and into the Colorado River southwest of New Castle Thursday.

Carmin Welding owner Kelly Carmin said around 600 feet of pipeline went into the river around 11 a.m. Thursday. That was part of a 2,600-foot length of pipe meant to draw water up to the top of Jolly Mesa for natural gas drilling.

Carmin declined to discuss the accident in detail, saying Monday the company was still investigating.

Orion Energy Partners Vice President of Operations Doug Harris said, “A one-inch piece of steel plate, not the welding, actually cracked. Then the pipeline slid down the mountain, across the road and into the river.”

He said the steel plate was a brace that a trackhoe or bulldozer was using to hold the pipeline in place. Proper safety procedures were followed and the accident was the result of the steel plate’s failure, Harris said. He said a second construction vehicle was also holding onto the pipe.

“There wasn’t any fault to the contractor,” he said. “That’s a normal operation. It’s just a failure in the steel that caused the problem.”

County officials did not say whether they thought workers followed proper safety procedures.

Harris said one man in a trackhoe or bulldozer broke his arm when the plate failed causing the vehicle to tip over. No one else was reported injured.

County Road 335 was closed much of Thursday and also for some time Friday. The pipe was removed by the end of the day Friday, county officials said. County oil and gas liaison Judy Jordan said the project management was pulling 40-foot sections of pipe out of the river.

County Environmental Health Manager Jim Rada said the pipe did not damage the road. It reportedly went off a ledge, over the road and into the river. Harris said it remained intact in one piece, but the lower section of the pipe that went into the river “looped around itself” and the upper portions of the pipeline remained heading up the pipeline route to the top of Jolly Mesa.

County Building and Planning Director Fred Jarman said the length of the pipe was too short to fall under county regulations for a land use permit. But he said a permit to bore under County Road 335 was pulled.

“The county has withdrawn that permit until the company can come back after the new year and demonstrate that this won’t happen again,” he said. “We just want to make sure that there’s zero risk to any of the citizens of the county.”

Jordan said one citizen contacted her office with concerns about safety.

Jarman said he couldn’t comment on whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was investigating. An OSHA employee in Denver said it appears that OSHA had not been notified about the accident by Monday, but OSHA may investigate the accident.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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