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Gas company: Dangerous carbon monoxide levels in southern Indiana caused by ‘incorrect mixture’

By Matthew Keck and Randall Kamm

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    CLARKSVILLE, Indiana (WLKY) — A gas company in southern Indiana has released what led to dangerous carbon monoxide levels last year.

CenterPoint Energy, a utility company, issued a statement on Tuesday saying an “incorrect mixture of gas” at its facility contributed to the deadly levels of carbon monoxide in Clarksville, New Albany and Jeffersonville on Dec. 24.

“We would like to extend our sincere apologies to those who were affected,” the company said.

They said while they initially did not see any issues with their system, they had a third party help investigate, and determined the cause.

“A disproportionate amount of propane had been added into our natural gas system and, as such, contributed to the reports of carbon monoxide in the three communities. We regret that our initial indications were incorrect and accept responsibility for the error,” CenterPoint said in a news release.

The company said that after its review that there are “no signs that any correct mixture remains in our system,” but they will be halting operations at its Jeffersonville propane air facility through the end of 2023.

On Christmas Eve last year, Clarksville Fire Department said they received more than 100 calls about the carbon monoxide issue.

At the time, Bill Elder told WLKY News his wife barely made it out in time.

“My daughter came and checked the door to get her out of here. She was in bed. If she’d been there 20 more minutes, she would have died,” Elder says a doctor told him.

Initially, CenterPoint had cited improper appliance venting as a possible cause for the issue. They also said at that time, due to the extreme cold, they were mixing propane with natural gas, but did not find any issue with its system.

Indiana state Rep. Rite Fleming was one of the people who pushed for the investigation.

She said at the time that there were questions that needed to be answered, being that some of the explanations weren’t lining up.

There were at least four people who were transported to hospitals during the issue, but Clarksville Fire chief Brandon Skaggs said he believed more took themselves to urgent care centers or emergency rooms to get checked out.

Any CenterPoint customers who have concerns about their natural gas appliances’ condition or operations should contact them at indianaclaim@centerpointenergy.com or at 713-207-7724.

The town of Clarksville sent out a news release following the news saying they commend CenterPoint for finding the cause and will continue to work with them and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to take actions to keep residents safe.

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