CenterPoint Energy said it has taken action after more than 100 reports of high carbon monoxide levels were made in December of last year by residents of Clarksville and several other Southern Indiana towns.
In a Tuesday release, the company said it had closed its Jeffersonville plant until the end of 2023 while officials decide its future in the aftermath of the Christmas week panic. The statement acknowledged while initial reports from the company said there was nothing wrong with the plant, an investigation later found a problem with the mixture of gas, which had a “disproportionate amount of propane.” None of the mixture at issue remains in the system, the statement added.
”We regret that our initial indications were incorrect and accept responsibility for the error,” the release said.
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The Clarksville Fire Department received more than 100 calls since Dec. 24 of last year reporting high levels of carbon monoxide, Clarksville Fire Chief Brandon Skaggs said at a press conference on Dec. 27. Some families from local neighborhoods, including Kenwood, Fairbanks and Green Acres, had to spend time away from their homes because their appliances had to be turned off, Skaggs said at the time.
The fire department said at the time four people, including three that lived in the same household, had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure. CenterPoint at that time said “improper appliance venting” was the cause behind the majority of the calls.
“We would like to extend our sincere apologies to those who were affected by carbon monoxide issues in their homes and businesses following the events that occurred in our natural gas service areas of Clarksville, New Albany and Jeffersonville, Ind. on Dec. 24,” the CenterPoint statement said.
The release said the investigation was done with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, which had already given a review of the Jeffersonville facility. It also said the company would cooperate to provide any information the commission needed and said it would work to prevent this from happening again. State Reps. Rita Fleming and Ed Clere had called for an investigation after the calls in December.
Kevin Baity, the town manager of Clarksville, said in a statement he was pleased to have answers about the incident and praised CenterPoint’s work towards managing the situation.
“The Town of Clarksville will continue to work with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and CenterPoint Energy as they continue to assess their operations and take the appropriate corrective actions to guarantee the safety of our residents,” Baity said.
Anyone who experiences issues with their natural gas appliances should contact CenterPoint through their email email@example.com or call the company at 713-207-7724.
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Reach Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow her on Twitter at @SoyAnaAlvarez.