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Investigation ongoing into carbon monoxide issues in Southern Indiana in December

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Investigations are ongoing into what caused multiple reports of carbon monoxide and other gas issues in Southern Indiana Dec. 25 and 25.

More than a month after multiple people reported carbon monoxide and other gas issues in Southern Indiana, there are still no clear answers on the cause.

However, investigations are ongoing, and CenterPoint Energy — which supplies natural gas to the area — is asking customers who reported issues to submit documentation for any expenses or damages incurred.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s (IURC) Pipeline Safety Division began investigating several weeks ago.

CenterPoint has also asked Standby Systems Inc. — a company that specializes in gas interchangeable systems — to conduct a review.

In an email sent to local lawmakers Monday, Luke Wilson with the IURC said the commission is awaiting Standby Systems’ analysis of the energy company’s propane plant, which is taking longer than expected.

He also included the letter CenterPoint has started sending to customers who reported issues.

It reads, in part, that the company is “in the process of investigating whether there were any issues involving CenterPoint Energy facilities serving your area, but we understand you may have incurred costs associated with the event.”

The letter asks for any invoices, estimates or photographs related to costs or damages, and that the company will contact customers “with our findings on this matter and next steps” once the investigation is finished.

The IURC’s Pipeline Safety Division began investigating CenterPoint’s records in mid-January, after more than 100 reports of gas issues in Clarksville, New Albany and Jeffersonville on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.

Some people said they experienced carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning symptoms, while others said their CO detectors allerted. Some customers said they smelled something strange or had issues with their gas appliances.

At least two people were hospitalized.

In a Dec. 27 statement to LPM News, CenterPoint said they weren’t aware of any issues with their natural gas systems during the event, and that the majority of reports were due to improper ventilation and appliances stressed by the cold.

They also said they’ve used a propane mix in past extreme weather events, but it’s not clear if they did that weekend. The company has said they won’t use a propane mix until it’s determined what caused the gas issues.

Reporter Ryan Van Velzer contributed to this story. 

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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